Pigeon fever Isn’t for the birds

 
By Connie Orcutt • Published: September 1st, 2012
Category: Animal Airwaves
Play

Pigeon fever is making the rounds this year. But horse owners beware: this bacterial infection attacks horses, not birds.

The disease gets its name from abscesses that can make a horse’s chest swell like a pigeon’s. Any swelling or lameness can signal infection. Some abscesses even attack internal organs out of sight, but with serious results.

The bacteria that cause pigeon fever are usually spread by flies and enter a horse through a cut or insect bite. Infected horses or cattle contaminate the soil and keep the highly infectious cycle going. Pigeon fever is usually seen in western states, but cases have been on the rise in Florida and other parts of the country.

Treatment is usually possible, but healing takes time. Fly control and isolation of infected animals will help prevent this disease from getting a foothold.