The Wood-Pigeon Diphtheria

Published on 01 August 1908 in Main articles

As Wood-Pigeon diphtheria was so prevalent last winter in various parts of England, and excited some interest amongst sportsmen and ornithologists, a brief account of this disease may he acceptable to readers of BRITISH BIEDS. This complaint has been often referred to in various journals, and several suggestions have been made to account for it, but in none of these have I seen the real cause of the disease stated. Like a great many diseases it is due to a specific micro-organism, which was isolated by Loftier in 1884 in Germany, from pigeons dead of the disease, and called by him Bacillus diphtherial eolumbarum. The disease begins to reveal itself in red patches, which appear first on the surface of the fauces and then spread to the base of the tongue and pharynx, and even a little way down the windpipe and gullet. Later these patches become covered with a thick yellowish layer. The birds are said to have fever for two or three weeks, and they gradually waste and die from the poisons manufactured by the bacilli, and not from inability to swallow, as I have found birds in the last stages of the disease with acorns in the crop; moreover the post-mortem appearance of the internal organs is that of death from poisoning. These bacilli, which I have cultivated from pigeons dead of this disease, are short, rod-shaped bacilli, with rounded ends, and belong to the same group as the bacilli of rabbit septicaemia and fowl cholera.

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