Avian Pox is a virus that effects any number of birds. It is actually widespread throughout North America. Where do the birds get the Avian Pox? There are various ways. One is through mosquitoes or other biting insects. Anyone watching the nest will have noticed mosquitoes. Other ways of catching the disease is being fed an infected bird or animal or even in nesting material. Sadly it is highly contagious and does not degrade for several years. The virus is often found in hot and humid areas such as N24’s natal nest in St Augustine, Florida.
There are various strains and each will impact a specific species of birds differently. Lesions (white, pink, or yellow) develop slowly on various parts of the body but most often are on areas without feathers such as the eagle’s face, its feet, and its talons. The dry pox (Cutaneous type) is the most common in North American raptors and has been seen in Bald Eagles. The other form is the wet pox (Diphtheritic) and this impacts the mouth and the ability of the bird to breathe. The mortality level in Bald Eagles is, according to the University of Michigan Department of Natural Resources, ‘high’.
The cutaneous form of AP is characterized by proliferative wart-like lesions on the unfeathered parts of the bird, such as the beak, eyelids, nostrils and the legs and feet. Clinical signs start as a red swelling that eventually cracks to become raised lesions. These lesions are usually self limiting and may persist from 1 week up to 4. Many birds recover with few or no permanent defects; however, young birds are usually more severely affected than adults. In some instances the lesions can cause permanent damage to the affected areas including blindness, beak malformations and loss of toes and feet. Following infection, lifelong immunity is thought to occur to that strain of virus. Excerpt taken from Avian Pox, Virginia Wildlife Centre, https://www.wildlifecenter.org/avian-poxvirus
N24 had lesions on its beak area yesterday. This morning those lesions are beginning to show up on its talons.
In a review of the literature, cases appear to range from mild to severe in intensity rarely causing death unless the virus impacts the mucous membranes in the mouth or the respiratory tract. There is, however, no treatment and the American Eagle Association cannot ask for an intervention because it is not directly caused by humans.
The camera screen is foggy today but you can clearly see the lesion. It has changed some from last night in my earlier posting.
N24 has a crop and was playing when I captured this image.
I am, at this time, trying to ascertain whether or not N24 has the dry or wet form of the Avian Pox. He is young and this virus will substantially impact the little eaglet who is just three weeks old today. It might well impact both Samson and Gabrielle as well as the overall condition of the nest. I will provide updates as they are available twice daily. Please send positive thoughts to this little one, our little ‘cutie pie’.
This is the statement put out by the AEF:
AEF cam staff diligently monitors and inspects the adults and eaglets through the season. On February 20th, our volunteer staff noticed the appearance of two lesions on NE24, after consultation with our veterinary staff, we believe the eaglet is showing symptoms of a potential Avipoxvirus (also known as Avian pox) infection.
Avian Pox is common in warm, humid areas, and can be traced to seasonal mosquito increases.
Avian Pox can range from mild to severe. In mild to moderate cases, it can cause permanent scarring, with more severe cases, fatalities can occur.
The Northeast Florida (NEFL) Nest is a wild nest and infections such as Avian Pox can naturally take place. American Eagle Foundation policy, crafted in conjunction with USFWS guidelines, prohibits interference in a wild nest unless the situation can be directly linked to a man-made threat.
As always, viewer discretion is advised.
To learn more about avian pox, visit the links provided below.
Thank you to the AEF for the streaming cam at the NEFL Eagle Nest where I took my scaps.