The year 2020
(written 14th December 2020)
The year 2020 will go down in history as the year of Corona. Corona viruses are nothing new, we already knew them from colds and from the respiratory diseases SARS and MERS, but this time we are dealing with a very annoying variant, namely COVID-19. Not highly contagious and not that deadly, especially for healthy younger people. Fortunately, mortality is low anyway, elderly people with poor health and overweight are the main risk group. Repeated intensive contact with sick carriers of the virus is the main source of the infection.
Certain population groups are also affected more than others. There are misunderstandings about definitions: what is a corona deceased? Misunderstandings about the number of infections: if you don’t test anyone you will find zero infections and if you test a million people you will find a certain percentage that says more than the number of infections you have found, a matter of nuances. Fortunately, various vaccines are on the way, which happened quickly because some “preliminary work” had already been done with the previous corona infections and because a lot of money was available and a number of bureaucratic steps could be accelerated.
If the Dutch government, which does not excel in decisiveness, now quickly sets up that vaccination program, the whole problem could be solved in a few months. This should already be possible in May 2021, partly due to the spring weather, because outside the virus is much less likely to ‘jump over’ than in closed spaces. I already referred to that in February 2020, see my article “Current events in the pigeon sport” dated February 16, 2020.
The virus will never go away, we have to learn to live with it, but with the right vaccinations, this COVID-19 should be more manageable than the regular flu (Influenza). And then normal life goes back to normal in no time.
Veterinarian specialists often work with large populations of animal species such as poultry, pigeons, cattle, pigs and horses. As a result, veterinarians often have more knowledge and experience with infectious diseases than human doctors. It is no coincidence that top virologists in the Netherlands and Belgium are veterinarians such as Prof. Dr. Ab Osterhaus and his successor at Erasmus University Prof. Dr. Marion Koopmans and in Belgium Prof. Dr. Steven van Gucht.
COVID vs PMV
If I had to compare Covid with a virus disease in pigeons, for example with PMV, there are huge differences: the contagiousness with PMV is much higher, and the mortality also up to> 75%. The incubation period is also much longer with PMV.
Fortunately, we also have excellent PMV vaccines available for our pigeons. This Paramyxo arrived in Western Europe in 1981 and will never disappear. If you vaccinate your youngsters 2x and then 1x every year you will never get PMV. And if your pigeons come into contact with Paramyxo, they get a free boost, because that is how it works with these virus infections and therefore also with humans, exactly the same story. In fact, going through a natural infection is the best “vaccination” you can get. With some diseases you never have to vaccinate again, with other ‘diseases’ you do, for example Influenza, because the immunity is simply too short or too low and the same applies to PMV. With Corona you will also have to get an annual vaccination to be sufficiently immune.
New EU regulations in 2021
Let’s hope we can start racing in time in 2021… but a new danger looms in the form of new, totally unannounced EU regulations that, as things stand now, could have far-reaching and nasty consequences for our wonderful hobby and sport!
The EU, in all its ‘wisdom’, I would rather say ‘silly greed for regulation’, has decided that, from April 21, 2021, pigeons may only cross the EU internal borders if they are inspected again and again 3 weeks in advance, so before each transport, by an official veterinarian etc. etc. In other words totally impossible and dramatic for the pigeon sport in Western Europe. It can’t be, that an entire industry which involves tens of millions of euros will be paralyzed with one stroke of the pen.
At various levels internationally, the pigeon sport is lobbying to put a stop to this! In the Netherlands through the WOWD with our excellent spokesperson Leo van der Waart and in the various pigeon countries such as Belgium and Germany through their channels to the government. If it still remains problematic through the national governments, the F.C.I. is ready to get involved at European level as soon as possible! The F.C.I. Chairman asked me if I was available and of course I am ready if necessary. When the president of the International Olympic Committee (I.O.C.) sent me an invitation to release the pigeons at the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in Mexico in 1968, I didn’t waste any time to fly to Mexico.
Of course I owed that invitation to my father Piet, nicknamed The Flying Dutchman, also called the “Pope of the pigeon sport”, who had super contacts all over the world and understood lobbying like no other. For many years he was also the contact person for the most important foreign guests of the NPO because he knew all the “greats”. They needed his vast knowledge of pigeon selection to reach the top in pigeon racing. During this opening ceremony, after marching in, all athletes per country were lined up in queues, as it should be, except for the Dutch delegation, who were randomly, undisciplined. The Dutch are familiar with it and partly because of this, the corona figures are now rising again with all the miserable measures and consequences that entails. In China the problem has almost been solved, partly thanks to strict discipline and the very energetic approach: quarantine, many tests, separate hospitals; they are now in the process of vaccinating and I just heard that the Chinese vaccine is already being administered in Morocco.
Current problems with our racehorses of the sky are now mainly Salmonella, also in vaccinated pigeons, but that will not surprise you if you follow my ideas and articles about it. We also see PMV regularly and here and there some canker, coccidiosis and worms.
We actually don’t see Adeno-Coli syndrome or classic ‘young pigeon disease syndrome’ (Y.P.D.S.) at this moment. That the classic Y.P.D.S. would be caused exclusively by Rota, etiological (the cause) and epidemiological (the spreading) seem too short-sighted. Where substantial rapid mortality plays a role, we often found Rota, but it is more likely as an extra burden, than as a root cause of Adeno-Coli syndrome.
We will continue to closely monitor this entire problem and also test the effectiveness of the Rota vaccines.
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