Fowl pox is an illness that can affect a wide range of backyard poultry. It is most commonly seen in chickens, but can also affect ducks, turkeys, and quail as well as wild birds.
Fowl pox takes on two different forms in poultry: a dry form and a wet form. In the dry form, scabby lesions form on the unfeathered parts of the chicken’s head; the comb, wattles, eyelids and feet or legs. The dry form is the most common form of fowl pox. Initially, the lesions are small, yellow-ish wart-like growths that may turn darker as the infection progresses.
The wet form of fowl pox causes lesions inside the mouth and throat of affected birds. The lesions begin as small white nodules, increasing in size and developing a yellow, cheesy appearance. Upper respiratory symptoms may also develop. The wet pox form is usually more lethal to a flock.
Vaccines against fowl pox are available. Vaccinate chicks at 12-16 weeks of age, at least 1 month before the onset of laying. Then vaccinate annually in the early spring. The pox viruses can be transmitted by mosquitoes, so vaccinating prior to the start of mosquito season is important to control the spread.
Fowl pox is usually self-limiting in most flocks. There is no treatment for the virus itself, so therapy is mostly supportive to provide relief of any upper respiratory symptoms present. Studies have shown more rapid healing of dry form skin lesions when affected birds are given extra vitamin A, so mixing Vital Pack in drinking water may be helpful to assist in recovery and healing.