Mystery around deaths of pigeons in Dordogne village

Autopsy points to stomach inflammation caused by an infection; tests have ruled out bird flu or poisoning

There are barely any pigeons left in the village
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Around 80 pigeons have been found dead in the last two weeks in a Dordogne village with local vets suspecting a rare disease as the cause.

Bird flu has been ruled out as a possible reason.

Residents in Coulaures have now begun to place the corpses in bags and hang them high up on walls, out of reach of children and other animals.

“There used to be so many pigeons [resting on the village church], but now there aren't any,” said one resident interviewed by French media outlet BFMTV.

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Local authorities conducting investigation

The mairie is conducting autopsies with poisoning – intentional or otherwise – initially suspected.

However, the results ruled this out and pointed towards rather to a rare and fatal illness called proventriculitis, which causes inflammation of part of a bird’s digestive tract.

The autopsied birds also had rashes on their bodies.

The mairie now believes the deaths were due to a viral infection, which spread rapidly through the local pigeon population.

The origin of the disease within the community is still unknown.

Further test results from the Direction départementale de la cohésion sociale et de la protection des populations (DDCSPP) will be available in the coming days.

See our article, below, for information on what to do if you see a sick bird of any kind.

Read more: Mystery of 130 dead seabirds found on France’s Atlantic beaches

Humans are safe, but pets may be at risk

The virus “does not affect humans” and cannot be transmitted to us from sick or dead pigeons, said mayor Corinne Ducrocq.

However, it may cause sickness in other animals.

One resident told France Bleu that her kittens had become very sick with severe vomiting and diarrhoea after partially eating a corpse of one of the dead pigeons.

It appears at present that the virus is only affecting birds in the vicinity of Coulaures. However as the origin of the disease is unknown it may have spread further afield without yet having been reported.

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