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International Society for Infectious Diseases <http://www.isid.org>

Date: Fri 18 May 2012
Source: GoErie.com [edited]

A male eagle rescued Tuesday [15 May 2012] evening on Erie's east side is being treated for avian pox virus at the Tamarack Wildlife Rehabilitation and Education Center in Saegertown.

Pennsylvania Game Commission officers rescued the bird from the rooftop of a home in the area of East 10th Street and Downing Avenue at about 6 p.m. on Tuesday [15 May 2012].

The eagle is not injured but has a bad case of avian pox, an infectious, contagious viral disease among birds, said Kris Steiner, a Tamarack assistant wildlife rehabilitator.

"Avian pox is a virus that only affects birds,'' Steiner said. "Also, it is primarily only the young birds and the birds with poor immune function that contract it. Therefore, even though it is a virus, we don't expect to see more birds with it.

"This is a virus that is out in the environment, but healthy birds don't get sick," she said. "This is not of public-health concern. The virus can be spread by either direct contact or indirect contact
(when) an infected bird lands on a bird feeder and passes the virus to other birds that are at that feeder later, and by mosquitoes."

Steiner said the virus produces dry, wart-like lesions in nonfeathered areas.

Steiner said the eagle, which she estimated is about one year old, has lesions on its beak, talons and lower legs where they meet the feathers.

"It's ugly and nasty, and he's in a lot of pain right now," Steiner said.

Tamarack staff members are nursing the eagle back to health. Steiner said the staff is washing the eagle's lesions twice a day and treating them with an iodine solution to speed drying and healing.

"He is currently receiving hydrating fluids 3 times a day now, and we are putting drops in his eyes to keep them lubricated since the [lesions] are currently surrounding both eyes," Steiner said. "We will transition him from fluids to solid food by the end of the week. If he begins to show signs of infection from the lesions, we will begin antibiotic treatment."

The eagle is not emaciated, but it is dehydrated and underweight, Steiner said.

"Once we get some weight on him, his immune system should improve and fight the virus on its own," she said. "I think he has a good prognosis."

Steiner said the public can track the eagle's progress by linking Tamarack's Facebook page. From a Facebook account, search for Tamarack Wildlife Rehabilitation and Education Center.

[Byline: Ron Leonardi]

Communicated by:
ProMED-mail from HealthMap alerts

[Avian pox is a slowly developing disease of birds caused by several different strains of avipoxvirus. A variety of birds worldwide, including upland gamebirds, marine birds, Passeriformes and Psittaciformes can become infected. It is not so common in birds of prey.

Avian pox occurs in 2 forms, the cutaneous being the most common. The cutaneous form of pox causes warty growths on unfeathered skin, sometimes in large clusters. The size and number of growths depend on the stage and severity of infection. Birds are often emaciated due to inability to feed (see picture of the lesions at <http://partnersah.vet.cornell.edu/avian-atlas/sites/agilestaging.library.cornell.edu.avian-atlas/files/avian_atlas_assets/POX-038A%20x750.jpg>).
In the diphtheritic form, there are raised, yellow plaques on the mucus membranes of the mouth and throat.

Transmission occurs via direct contact with infected birds, ingestion of food and water contaminated by sick birds or carcasses, or contact with contaminated surfaces such as bird feeders and perches. The virus enters through abraded skin. Insects, especially mosquitoes, act as mechanical vectors. The disease can be a significant mortality factor in some upland game bird populations during fall and winter months, in songbirds over winter, and in raptor populations.

Birds can survive with supportive care, food and water, and protection from secondary infections. Warty scabs contain infectious viral material.

A picture of the rescued eagle showing the lesions around its eyes and beak can be found at <http://www.goerie.com/apps/pbcsi.dll/storyimage/GE/20120518/NEWS02/305179856/AR/0/AR-305179856.jpg&MaxW=900&MaxH=900>.

Portions of this comment were extracted from <http://www.nwhc.usgs.gov/disease_information/other_diseases/avian_pox.jsp>.

A ProMED-mail HealthMap of the affected area can be seen at <http://healthmap.org/r/2pCI>. - Mod.PMB]

[see also:
Avian pox - USA: (MT) wild turkey 20120316.1072516 Avian pox, garden birds - UK: (England) 20120310.1066814
Avian pox virus, penguins - Falkland Islands 20060224.0611
Avian pox, albatross - New Zealand: RFI 19970310.0531] .................................................sb/pmb/msp/mpp/ll
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