Government vets are currently investigating six likely cases of goose parvovirus, a highly contagious and fatal disease of goslings and Muscovy ducklings. The virus has only been reported on one occasion in the UK since the early 1980s.

In a letter in this week’s Vet Record, the eight vets outline an ongoing investigation into four cases in south west England.

One producer imported a batch of 1100 day-old goslings from Denmark. Subsequently, birds were sold on to the three other units for Christmas rearing.

At the time of initial investigation, 20% of birds in two flocks had died or were sick. Clinical signs include lethargy, weight loss and watery discharge from the eyes.

A further two flocks in Northern England are also being investigated.

Contagious

The disease, also called Derzsy’s disease or goose plague is a highly contagious disease of goslings and Muscovy ducks under six weeks of age. Infected birds excrete large amounts of virus in their faeces, resulting in rapid spread.

Prevention and control relies on good biosecurity, hygiene and eliminating carrier birds and sourcing goslings from known GPV-free flocks.

However, the vets warn that older geese can become carriers of the virus while showing no clinical signs, allowing the virus to persist on a unit. Therefore, they warn of the risk of keeping birds from one season to the next.