Adenovirus in Young Pigeons: What is it and How to Treat it?

Every year, many young pigeons are affected by the so-called young pigeon diarrhea (adenovirose type 1 or classic adenovirose). The condition is very seasonal (from April to July, with the most cases in June) and most cases occur shortly after the young come into contact with foreign pigeons. The disease is caused by an adenovirus, but it is the almost always present complication with colibacteria that is responsible for the worst symptoms and any mortality.

Clinical Picture

The disease is usually brought into the loft by one or more young that have been on a flight. The infection therefore usually takes place in the transport basket. Within 4 to 5 days, the disease spreads to all young pigeons in the loft. Yearlings and older pigeons usually do not get sick. The first symptoms are often severe vomiting and poor digestion. Then the pigeons become seriously ill and produce a watery, yellow-green, smelly manure. The pigeons are dull, hardly fly anymore and sit with swollen feathers. They quickly show signs of dehydration and in severe cases death can occur.

These disease symptoms are the result of the extensive intestinal damage caused by the adenovirus. This intestinal damage makes the intestine susceptible to complications with bacteria. Especially the colibacteria easily multiply on the damaged intestinal wall and often lead to serious complications. A secondary infection with colibacteria worsens the disease, making the pigeons sick for longer and increasing the risk of death. It is therefore of great importance that the disease is diagnosed as soon as possible, in order to be able to start the treatment at the earliest possible stage.


For proper treatment, it is advisable to have a veterinarian make the diagnosis. Other causes of diarrhea must be ruled out. Hexamithiasis (intestinal trichomonas), for example, often causes intestinal disorders in young pigeons in the spring. Intestinal trichomonas can be determined by microscopic examination of body-warm excrement. The distinction between adenocoli and intestinal trichomonas is important because these diseases must be treated with different drugs.


There are still no drugs or vaccines available against the adenovirus itself. The treatment mainly consists of immediately administering an intestinal antibiotic against the bacterial secondary infections. The timely administration of a drug effective against the colibacteria significantly reduces the symptoms of the disease and the associated condition loss. It is therefore of the utmost importance to start the treatment as soon as the first symptoms appear.

As supportive treatment, the administration of an intestinal conditioner in the treatment of young pigeon diarrhea is strongly recommended. These products reduce the loss of fluid due to diarrhea and promote the recovery of the intestinal balance. These products are composed of natural, plant fibers that bind the fluid, so that the manure consistency improves very quickly. The present fructo-oligosaccharides are a kind of sugars that promote the good bacteria and slow down the pathogenic bacteria. This action is mainly based on the fact that these saccharides prevent the pathogenic bacteria from attaching to the intestinal wall.

In Short

  • Always treat immediately with a suitable antibiotic in consultation with your veterinarian.
  • The administration of intestinal conditioners quickly improves the manure consistency.
  • To compensate for the loss of fluid and salts, the administration of electrolytes is recommended.

With the right guidance and treatment, the chance of recovery from adenovirus in young pigeons is very high. It is therefore important to take action as soon as the first symptoms appear, and to set up the right treatment. By keeping an eye on the symptoms and providing a preventive intestinal conditioner, your young pigeons with adenovirus can recover quickly!

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