“It has been a very varied year for the disease, even within the confines of my practice area — much of central southern England,” commented vet John Dalton, of Dalton Game Consultancy which specialises in gamebird health.

He added: “There has been one particular pocket of trouble, with birds showing typical signs of bulgy-eye (Mycoplasmic sinusitis).”

He continued: “We are still trying to establish the pattern of the spread of the disease and pinpoint the origin.”

Mycoplasmosis has been recognised in pheasants and partridges since the 1950s. The disease is most often seen in adult birds, though all ages may be affected. John pointed out that mortality in chicks seven to 14 days old can be devastating to gamefarmers. The disease is mainly characterised by respiratory symptoms and sinusitis, though joint infections may be seen as well.

Transmission occurs through bird-to-bird close contact via air droplets, infected litter and equipment, and from hen to chick via the egg. “Recovered birds will still carry the disease, therefore once your flock is infected it will remain infected,” John warned.

The rest of this article appears in 21 February issue of Shooting Times.

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