Fowl Pox in Chickens

Yes, chickens can get them, too! Find out how fowl pox can affect your flock.

Fowl pox is a viral disease that mostly affects the featherless skin of chickens.

Fowl Pox Symptoms
Fowl pox causes round, raised lesions with “scabby” centers. Most skin lesions are located on the comb, wattle and face, and occasionally on the legs. Fowl pox can also infect the lining of the mouth and the windpipe. The lesions in the throat can grow to cause complete blockage and possibly death by suffocation. Chickens could be temporarily or permanently blinded by pox lesions if it spreads to the eyes.

Can it spread?
Fowl pox tends to spread slowly; it will grow in any break in the skin.

Fowl Pox Prevention
Mosquitoes serve as mechanical carriers of the disease, so decrease mosquitoes in your environment. Because ordinary management and sanitation practices will not prevent the disease, fowl pox is most often prevented by vaccination. Vaccination is recommended for long-lived chickens, such as egg layers and breeders, and also in areas known to have high fowl-pox risk. The live vaccine is administered in the wing web when the chickens are six to 10 weeks old. By controlling aggression between birds, you’ll help decrease skin damage in which the pox virus could infect.

Fowl Pox Treatment
There is no treatment for fowl pox once a bird is infected. As long as the chicken continues eating and drinking, fowl pox is a limited infection that resolves itself in about two weeks with little risk of fatality. Successful recovery from infection results in immunity.

About the Authors: Dr. Jose A. Linares, DVM, ACPV is the Resident Director of the Texas Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory, Poultry Diagnostic Laboratory in Gonzales, TX. Dr. John El-Attrache, Ph.D is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Veterinary Pathobiology in the College of Veterinary Medicine at Texas A&M University.

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