Diseases and conditions

Paramyxovirus / PMV

Different variants of the virus cause different clinical symptoms. Almost all bird species can be affected by one or more serotypes of the virus.



The most well-known strain of the type 1 virus is that which causes Newcastle Disease (NDV). This disease is widespread and has a direct effect on the economy. It is best known by its infection of chickens, but the virus can cause sickness or death in almost every bird species. Birds become infected by ingesting the faecal material of sick birds or from birds that spread the virus while not being sick themselves (carriers).

Severely pathogenic strains of the Newcastle Disease virus can cause sudden death without showing any previous sign of illness. Symptoms of the disease that are commonly seen are diarrhoea, not eating and respiratory difficulties. A slower course of the disease can cause symptoms in the chickens' nervous system, such as loss of balance.



Pigeons can also be infected by paramyxovirus type 1, but a different variant thereof. This is very similar to the virus causing New Castle Disease. After the pigeon ingests the virus, it will drink more, eat less, have diarrhoea and possibly regurgitate. Most typical are the nervous symptoms: their wings will tremble and they will become stargazers. Young pigeons can die as a result of the disease, adult pigeons can recover after 3 to 4 weeks.


In other bird species, the type 1 virus can cause a wide range of nondescript symptoms, such as conjunctivitis, respiratory problems, diarrhoea and nervous symptoms.



This variant of the virus mainly causes illness in songbirds and members of the parrot family. The first sign of infection in birds such as the Gouldian finch and other finch species are conjunctivitis, followed by a yellowish diarrhoea, difficulty eating and respiratory problems. Some of the birds infected will die while others can recover.

The most significant signs in parrots and related species are the nervous symptoms. These are identical to pigeons with PMV-1.  In addition, the liver and kidneys can be affected and the birds can have diarrhoea.


Treatment and prevention:

Pigeons can be vaccinated from the age of 4 weeks. This does not fully prevent the pigeons from becoming sick, but the symptoms are less severe and recovery time is reduced. There is no specific treatment possible for sick birds. Antibiotics may help to combat any secondary bacterial  infection.

Birds showing serious nervous signs can have difficulty eating from the food tray. They will need supportive care by hand feeding them to prevent starvation. Birds can fully recover from the virus without any permanent effects. This all depends on the birds' resistance and whether or not any secondary bacteria have caused a concurrent infection.