All about Fowl Pox (Dry) disease

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Chickens with advanced stages of dry fowl pox look completely miserable (scroll down and you'll see some potentially upsetting pictures!), but thankfully, this viral disease is rarely fatal. It can spread quickly from bird-to-bird in your flock, however, so you'll need to practice quarantine if you see signs of fowl pox in your flock. Read on to find out more.

Fowl Pox (Dry) Also called
Fowl pox, sore head, cutaneous pox, dry pox


General signs -
Scabby, discolored, swollen bumps on face, eyes.

Cardinal or diagnostic signs -
Pox spread from bird to bird, unlike simple injuries.

Black spots like these are characteristic of fowl pox.

Avipoxvirus. This is the same family of viruses that causes wet pox; however, in the case of dry pox, it does not invade the windpipe or trachea.

Very communicable, but spreads slowly via blood from scratches, wounds or other injuries. Also spread by mosquitoes and mites, in which case the spread may be quick. Passes from hen to chick in the egg.

Fowl pox can also entail swollen, watery eyes.

Communicability to humans
No, humans cannot be infected with this virus. (Pox in humans is caused by a different virus.) However, you can carry the virus to your birds on shoes or equipment, so be sure to thoroughly wash and sanitize hands after handling birds or equipment, and be sure to sanitize equipment.

Incubation period
4 to 14 days

Occasionally, some birds can become carriers and shed virus during times of stress.

Yes, but especially common in flocks crowded into small areas, such as large commercial flocks or small pet flocks staying in the coop during winter.

Home treatment and/or prevention
Prevention: Vaccinate. Practice good biosecurity. Make sure you quarantine any birds with pox.

Treatment: None. Still, making sure the sick birds are not subject to other stressors can reduce mortality. For instance, make sure sick birds have access to an area that is sufficiently warm (or cool). If scabs interfere with eating and drinking, make sure to remove.

Veterinary care -
A vet may prescribe antibiotics to stave off secondary infections while birds recover; however, no medication exists for the fowl pox virus itself.

Fowl pox - cured!

Most birds (98%) survive dry pox; however, pox may infect the eyes and cause additional problems. Recovery typically takes three to five weeks.

Other conditions, illnesses and/or diseases with similar signs:
Injuries of the face and comb. Wet pox may also have external manifestations.

Also consider browsing through this list of other chicken illnesses with respiratory symptoms.