12 Most Common Pigeon Diseases

Most Common Pigeon Diseases
Photo by Viktor Keri

Like most birds, pigeons have no immune system of their own to fight off disease.

Also, they’re prone to picking up any illnesses, some of which can be fatal if left untreated.

In this article, we’ll look at the most common Pigeon diseases. Also, we’ll tell you what you can do if you notice your pigeons showing any signs of illness or discomfort.

You’ll learn about common pigeon diseases that are likely to be contracted from their environment.

Some of them can even be passed from one bird to another during close contact with others of their kind.

1. Colibacillosis

Image by Lucyin via Wikimedia

Colibacillosis is one of the common Pigeon diseases caused by strains of Escherichia coli bacteria that attacks pigeon intestines.

This condition is contracted through contact with infected pigeons or their droppings.

Therefore, it’s a vital preventive measure to keep your birds in a clean environment. 

Also, Pigeon colibacillosis should be addressed quickly because it can lead to other more severe conditions.

If left untreated for too long, colibacillosis may cause death. In addition to keeping your pigeons healthy, there are some things you can do at home to treat mild cases of colibacillosis. 

For example, Pigeon antibiotics are available over the counter at pet stores and online.

However, they aren’t always effective against E. coli strains. It’s best to consult a veterinarian before giving any medication to your bird(s). 

Furthermore, a vet will likely recommend one or more of these treatments.

Birds suffering from chronic cases of colibacillosis may need additional care, like fluid therapy (IV) administered by a professional veterinarian.

These common Pigeon diseases are not often fatal; you must take extra precautions!

2. Worm

Pigeon worms, one of the common Pigeon diseases, are a type of parasite that affect pigeons.

The worms are usually no larger than 1/8th inch in length; however, they have been known to grow as large as 3/4th of an inch. 

Also, one worm cannot infect a pigeon—instead, hundreds or even thousands in one bird at any given time. Looking at it, there is no way to tell if your pigeon has parasites.

Therefore, you must take it to a local veterinarian or an avian specialist for identification purposes.

As with other types of parasites, it is recommended that all pigeons be treated, and this should be done regardless of whether they show symptoms of these common Pigeon diseases.

3. Mycoplasma

Mycoplasma, also known as walking dandruff, is a significant and common pigeon disease.

People who have not dealt with Mycoplasma before may mistake it for some grime. It’s caused by a strain of bacteria that invades your bird’s feathers and skin cells. 

Moreover, it looks nasty (white or yellowish spots on dark feathers), and Mycoplasma also causes itching.

The itching can be mild to severe, and your best course of action against Mycoplasma is prevention.

Also, keep your birds clean (wash their coop regularly) and watch for symptoms so you can take action early.

If Mycoplasma has infected your pigeon, antibiotics are available to reduce irritation in most cases quickly.

4. Respiratory Infections

Respiratory Infections are some of the top common pigeon diseases to worry about since they quickly spread to other birds.

You’ll know your bird has a respiratory infection if it often sneezes, coughs, or wheezes. You can also see if it has watery eyes or is generally sedentary. 

Additionally, respiratory infections can be caused by several different factors.

These include bacteria like Chlamydia, Pasteurella, or Mycoplasma; fungi like Aspergillus; or viruses like Paramyxovirus.

Fortunately, several products can help your bird get over respiratory infections. 

However, in severe cases, your vet may prescribe antibiotics to treat bacterial infections or antiviral drugs for viral ones.

You might want to try an antibiotic-free product like Zymox Otic with Hydrocortisone for milder cases, and it treats inflammation in addition to bacteria and yeast. 

Also, It contains both hydrocortisone (an anti-inflammatory) and neomycin (an antibiotic).

If none of these options works for your bird, talk about using a nebulizer with your vet, which helps clear out mucus from the airways.

5. Hexamita

Hexamita is one of the more complex and common pigeon diseases to recognize.

A protozoan causes diarrhea, weight loss, and yellowish-green droppings. If left untreated, mortality rates may reach 100 percent within two weeks. 

However, breeding programs generally keep disease levels down enough that it isn’t a significant cause of death for domestic pigeons.

All the same, many feral populations suffer high levels as a result of poor sanitation.

Pigeon fanciers should know how to prevent exposure by providing ample clean water supplies for drinking and bathing. 

Also, they should have ready access to anti-parasitic medication. This includes Fenbendazole if faced with an outbreak of one of these common Pigeon diseases.

6. Coccidia

Coccidia is a protozoan parasite usually found in small mammals, and it is often difficult to diagnose as it does not show visible symptoms in your pigeon.

The best way to avoid Coccidiosis is by keeping an eye on your birds’ droppings. 

In addition, you also need to make sure they have plenty of room to exercise.

They also need clean water to drink and grit available for digestion. If you think you see signs of Coccidiosis, see a vet as soon as possible!

Besides, your bird may need medication, or it could be something else entirely! You should also disinfect their cage thoroughly.

By knowing how to recognize these common pigeon diseases, you will be able to take better care of your beloved pet!

7. Flies

Flies are one of the more common pigeon diseases, and wild birds can also pass them on.

Birds living close to or directly together will also suffer from these afflictions. 

Fortunately, they’re easy to identify and treat as you’re prepared.

The infected bird should be separated from healthy birds immediately so its disease doesn’t spread further.

However, lice and flies have been known to survive for weeks without one.

Treating your flock flies is simple: use an over-the-counter product like Frontline or Advantage.

If that doesn’t work after a few days, try something more substantial like Revolution.

8. Pigeon Paralysis

Pigeon Paralysis

The pigeon disease Pigeon Paralysis is brought on by a picornavirus known as CPV.

This virus causes paralysis of various muscles within a few days of infection, but not all at once.

This means some infected birds will appear healthy for up to two weeks after the disease. 

Although the disease is incurable, some success has been found in limiting symptoms with corticosteroids and supportive care.

No one knows how widespread Pigeon Paralysis is among wild populations of pigeons; however, it seems to be a widespread disease among captive birds. 

Conclusively, hundreds of cases have been reported yearly since it was first detected in 1946.

Always ensure your pigeon is in a good and healthy environment to avoid these common Pigeon diseases!

9. Aspergillosis

Aspergillosis is caused by an airborne fungus called Aspergillus.

It affects pigeons in two ways: Aspergillosis immunosuppression (AI) or acute aspergillosis and allergic bronchitis (AB).

Several species of Aspergillus can cause AI, but A. fumigatus is a significant cause of disease in racing homers. 

Although, it’s not uncommon for some owners to have multiple cases on their pigeon lofts.

This fungus lives in organic matter such as wood shavings, straw bedding or pelleted feed, and decaying grain.

These fungi that cause one of these common Pigeon diseases can be found in other seeds stored improperly without refrigeration.

10. Ranikhet

Ranikhet is a viral infection of domestic pigeons. It is also commonly known as Paramyxovirus type 2, and this disease affects only birds. 

Although, in severe cases, it can spread to other birds through droppings or contaminated equipment, clothing, or food.

As infected birds die, they pollute the environment with their saliva and other bodily fluids.

This spreads even more easily among live birds, and It’s highly contagious among pigeons, 

However, it is unlikely that other types of animals would be affected by Ranikhet.

Ranikhet is one of the common Pigeon diseases that only infect birds and can’t affect humans.

11. Ornithosis

Ornithosis is a highly contagious respiratory disease found in wild birds and affects some captive bird species, including domesticated ones.

A pigeon developing ornithosis will present signs like labored breathing, difficulty flying, lethargy, and coughing.

Unfortunately, some birds infected with ornithosis don’t survive for more than a few days because of how rapidly it progresses.

However, sometimes birds that have contracted ornithosis may be able to recover after being treated.

Pigeon owners who think their pigeon has been exposed to or infected by ornithosis should have it checked out.

However, this should be done by an avian veterinarian as soon as possible. This is so that proper treatment can begin immediately.

Ornithosis is one of the common Pigeon diseases that should be attended to as soon as it is diagnosed!

12. Dermatitis

One of the many common Pigeon diseases, dermatitis, has many different causes.

One of these is hives, red, itchy spots on your bird’s skin that may ooze if scratched or bitten. A common cause of hives in pigeons is a dietary deficiency. 

Minerals such as zinc are often lacking in pigeon feed and can result in skin irritation or infection.

To treat dermatitis caused by diet, give your bird Vitamin C and a multivitamin designed for birds.


Follow some general rules to help minimize your pigeon’s exposure to these diseases.

Keep your loft clean; always keep a stash of fresh drinking water available. Provide air circulation and ventilation (never use forced-air heat or air conditioning). 

Also, don’t overfeed your bird. Avoid taking him outside if it’s rainy or cold, and never handle him when he is wet.

If you notice any change in behavior, such as acting sluggish or staying on one side of his body, don’t wait!

Finally, remember always to contact a vet immediately. Early treatment of any of these common Pigeon diseases is crucial for recovery! Pigeon breeding is rewarding for both pet owners and avid hobbyists.

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