Do Pigeons Carry Bird Flu?

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Bird flu is one of the most common diseases among birds across the globe. The other name for bird flu is avian flu. It spreads from one bird to another and eventually affects several birds causing an outbreak. Do pigeons carry bird flu? is this a long argument among the general public. Few people argue that pigeons do not spread bird flu, while others state the opposite. 

Researchers have proved that pigeons, as well as: chickens, turkeys, geese, and pheasant, carry the bird flu virus. An infected pigeon carries the virus in the body fluids. The virus can be found: in the eyes, nose, and mouth of the infected pigeon. They spread the virus from their droppings from one place to another or another bird.

The pigeons living in the wild are at most risk. The birds commonly shed the virus without displaying any signs and symptoms of sickness. It is a highly pathogenic virus that can kill the pigeon within a few days.

Read Full Article: Do Pigeons Carry Diseases

Symptoms Of Bird Flu In Pigeons

Bird flu is the deadliest virus in pigeons causing the highest mortality rate. The pigeon affected with the virus will first have neurological symptoms followed by digestion problems and death. 

After the pigeon gets infected with the virus, it will not show any signs for a few days. There is a sudden appearance of signs and symptoms with the swollen head. The color of the comb and wattles turns blue. The pigeon becomes dull and is not able to perform daily activities. 

The pigeon will have digestive issues with the lack of appetite and diarrhea. The bird will have difficulty breathing causing respiratory distress as the virus affects the lungs. 

Additionally, the production of eggs will slow down. If you notice these symptoms in your pet pigeon, it is better to alert the animal health office. This virus will spread from one bird to another leading to an outbreak. 

Which Birds Can Spread Bird Flu?

Bird flu or avian virus is a famous virus among several bird species, including chicken, turkey, pigeons, ducks, and geese. These birds spread the virus in their feces. The virus is also present in the body fluids of an infected bird. If the other birds touch the infected bird, droppings, blood, or saliva, it will be infected. 

There are many variants of the avian virus. Each variant affects a specific one or two species of birds. However, a few years ago in Egypt, there was an outbreak of the HPAI variant of the virus among pigeons. The HPAI is a sub-lineage of the H5 variant of the bird flu, which is common in chickens. 

Can Pigeons Spread Bird Flu?

According to studies, pigeons do carry the bird flu virus. Pigeons might spread bird flu but less than the other bird species. Pigeons can infect other animals, especially the stray cats who feed on them. 

A pigeon can spread bird flu to other pigeons, but the chances to transfer it to a human with the avian virus are way less. Even the pigeons residing near the people are less likely to infect the humans. Typically, pigeons are one place residents and move rarely. Therefore, the chances of spreading the virus from one place to another via pigeon are less.

Are Pigeons Immune To Bird Flu?

Pigeons are relatively immune to the bird flu. Researchers have proved that it is rare for the virus to show symptoms in pigeons compared to other birds. The mortality rate among the pigeons infected with the avian virus is fifty percent. 

The survey in the New York bird market shows that pigeons do not carry bird flu antibodies, therefore they can be infected with the avian virus. The pigeons are somewhat immune to the bird flu; they can infect the virus without displaying any symptoms and transfer it to other birds.

Can Humans Get Bird Flu From Birds?

The most common concern among the public is whether a human can get infected with the bird flu or not. The answer is humans can get infected though it is rare. Many people around the globe have been infected with a variant of bird flu, and most of them died.

The bird flu can be transmitted to humans if they touch infected birds or their nests or by handling the raw chicken meat for cooking. 

The chicken is the most common culprit of spreading the avian virus to humans. In 1997 the bird flu was spread from chickens to humans leading to an outbreak. 

However, humans cannot get infected by simply feeding the bird. Dr. Shudharshan Ballal, medical director of Manipal hospital- states that birds carrying the virus can infect the other birds but the pigeons can’t spread the virus to the people feeding them.

Can Birds Survive Bird Flu?

Bird flu is the deadliest virus, with a fifty percent chance of death. The pigeons are somewhat immune to the virus, but once the virus is active, it will cause death. There is no treatment available for the bird flu virus.

Most countries kill the entire stock of infected birds, which is the only way to control its spread. If you have pet birds try keeping them away from the wild birds. Do not allow pet geese or ducks in the outside ponds because water might contain the virus.


The pigeons might carry the avian virus. There are many variants of the avian virus, and each of them causes sudden death in the birds. However, pigeons are resistant to the bird flu. The pigeons shed the virus in their dropping. They can spread the virus to other birds, but pigeons are less likely to show symptoms themselves.

Bird flu is a highly pathogenic viral disease which affects the nervous system, respiratory system, and digestive system of the bird. The pigeon will not survive more than a few days from the initial appearance of the symptoms. It is quite impossible for pigeons to spread the virus to humans unless one comes in contact with the blood or nest of an infected pigeon.


Review of avian influenza in pigeons and doves- Veterinary Microbiology

The spread of the H5N1 bird flu epidemic in Asia- Springer

Health hazards posed by feral pigeons- Journal of Infection