bird deaths

The cause of wild bird deaths in the Eastern Cape has been identified.

Cause of wild bird deaths in Eastern Cape identified

State veterinarians have identified the cause of wild bird deaths in the Eastern Cape as Avian Paramyxovirus and Newcastle diseases.

bird deaths

The cause of wild bird deaths in the Eastern Cape has been identified.

Birds reportedly falling out of the sky and found dead in parts of the Eastern Cape have died of Avian Paramyxovirus and Newcastle diseases.

The Eastern Cape department of Rural Development and Agrarian Reform confirmed the test results on Tuesday.

Hundreds of bird deaths have been reported in the Buffalo City Municipality since March, which prompted Neville’s Snake and Reptile Rescue to collect dead birds for testing at the SPCA.


Wild birds found mysteriously dying in Gqeberha were also handed to state veterinarians for testing.

Testing and investigation included tracing of birds, collecting and conducting post mortems to identify the cause of bird deaths. Samples collected were sent to the Onderstepoort Veterinary Research (OVR) Laboratory for analysis.

On 7 April, test results came back indicating the birds were positive for Avian Paramyxovirus and Newcastle diseases.

Veterinarians specializing in birds have found a pattern in which wild doves seem to be highly susceptible to Paramyxovirus in cycles of four years.


Avian Paramyxovirus, commonly found in many countries, is reportedly a viral infection that can spread rapidly causing high rates of pigeon illness and death.

According to the report human infections are rare and might only occur in people who are in close contact with infected birds, causing flu- like symptoms.

Signs that a bird may have the diseases are lethargy, vomiting or regurgitation, green diarrhea, twisting of the neck, circling, head flicking, labored breathing and runny eyes. Sick birds can die within three days.


Newcastle disease is a viral infection of chickens (poultry) and other birds . It is reportedly a worldwide problem that causes acute respiratory disease.

Owners of domestic poultry are advised to use the registered Newcastle vaccine to prevent any more bird deaths. At this time contact between wild birds and domestic poultry should also be prevented at all costs.

Although there are no specific treatment to curb the spread of the disease bird keepers are advised to implement biosecurity measures which include;

  • Cleaning and disinfecting footwear, washing hands and clothes after visiting other birds
  • Keeping lofts and equipment clean
  • Disinfecting equipment used to house, transport, feed and water other birds
  • Preventing wild birds, feral pigeons, and their droppings from having contact with
  • your pigeons or contaminating their feed or water
  • Quarantine for at least two weeks any new birds or birds returning from a show or
  • race
  • Limiting any unnecessary visitors to your pigeon’s loft

READ: Huge ‘Bird Flu’ outbreak puts Ekurhuleni farm under quarantine