Pigeon virus sweeps the region; some have trouble landing
Geneva, Switzerland (GenevaLunch) – A deadly virus is killing what may be hundreds of pigeons and turtledoves around Geneva, particularly in the commune of Carouge.
Health authorities advised people in an alert published 31 January not to touch any dead birds to avoid spreading the disease to other ones.
The virus is not dangerous to humans or other animals, and the scale of the problem is not a health nuisance, nor have the birds been poisoned, authorities were quick to reassure.
The pigeon population may be reduced in the short term but it will rebuild as the virus dies out naturally.
Health authorities say the virus, which is often lethal, affects only pigeons and turtledoves, but they recommend that people avoid touching sick or dead birds.
Please don’t feed the birds!
Geneva has a law against feeding birds, but the city is insisting that for the sake of the pigeons, people must restrain from feeding them now, as the virus spreads most easily when the birds flock together. Feeding encourages them to concentrate in small areas.
Some research has shown that bird droppings are the main form of the virus spreading in areas where birds are concentrated.
Researchers at the University of Zurich have identified it as pigeon paramyxovirus-1, which causes neurological problems: tremors of the head or wings, difficulties landing, a stiff neck, loss of sense of orientation and difficulty feeding. In very rare cases a pigeon may become more aggressive towards other birds.
Pigeons not welcome at Geneva aviculture fair
The cantonal veterinarian has barred these types of birds from the Carouge aviculture fair that begins this week to prevent the further spread of the disease.
What to do if you find a sick or dead pigeon or turtledove
Do not touch it! Call +41 22 388 5500 to alert cantonal authorities, who will pick up and dispose of the birds properly.