- Bird contract bacterial, viral, fungal, parasitic, nutritional, and environmental – stress diseases. Bird diseases differ depending on the infected organ of the bird and/or cause of the problem.
- A baby hand-fed bird will most likely be infected by a yeast infection; while a weaned bird will most likely be infected with Bacteria.
- Old birds suffer from the nutritional disease, trauma, tumor, chronic infections, intoxication (Zinc and Lead), parasites and improper management.
Ways to Diagnose
- Physical Exam.
- Gram stain on fecal, mouth, and crop’s swabs.
- Culture and sensitivity.
- CBC deferential and chemistry on blood. Hematology and blood chemistry are very important in birds because physical examination tends to reveal less than in other animals.
- Radiography reveals:
- Foreign objects inside the bird.
- Fungal Infections
- Intestinal Obstructions
It is very challenging to diagnose diseases in baby birds. To prevent any diseases one should consider nursery management, incubation, and production techniques. Pediatric problems can be emergencies; you should contact your veterinarian.
A sick bird benefits greatly from an increase in temperature and humidity. The most common baby bird’s illnesses are:
- Sour crop
- Crop burns
- Vomiting or regurgitation
- Ventricular obstruction
- Pharyngeal puncture
- Crooked beak
- Splay leg
- Weak neck
- Toe necrosis
- Neonatal feather dystrophy or loss
- Depression, jaundice, anorexia
- Hepatomegaly (Liver enlargement)
- Abdominal bloating, vomiting
- Pallor, gastrointestinal stasis, subcutaneous hemorrhages, death, blood in feces, and blood in the urine.
Bird BACTERIAL DISEASES
The most important will be discussed
Psittacosis (Chlamydia): The causative agent is Chlamydia. This is a transmissible disease to people.
Symptoms: Not eating, fluffed up feathers, green fecal, and in advanced cases wet eyes.
Diagnosis: History, mouth and anal swabs are required for laboratory tests.
Treatment: Injection or oral antibiotics.
Bird FUNGAL DISEASES
Symptoms: Depend on the causative agent and infected organs:
Deferential diagnosis (has similar symptoms to Heavy metal intoxication, environmental intoxication, and foreign objects inside.
- Gastrointestinal (GI)
- Respiratory organs including air sacs.
Diagnosis: History, mouth swab, crop swab, fecal swab, X-ray, and endoscopy.
Treatment: Medication by mouth and/or aerosol.
Bird VIRAL DISEASES
Newcastle Disease: Birds may not show any symptoms and then heal, however in severe cases, the bird will die.
Pacheco’s Parrot Disease is very contagious with symptoms that onset very rapidly and severely. The disease spread by direct contact, and contaminated food and water.Symptoms: Very yellow and bad-smelling feces, complete loss of appetite, and skin will be visibly yellow.
- Pox Disease: The most common poxviruses of pet birds are canary pox, parrot pox, Agapornis pox, and pogeonpox.
Symptoms: in nestlings include slow feather growth, diarrhea, crop or gastrointestinal stasis, dehydration, swollen abdomen, read skin, bleeding under the skin, and death.
- Avian Influenza Viruses: Not very common in parrots.
- Avian polyomavirus.
Diagnosis: Laboratory test on blood or anal swab.
Treatment: It is not available.
Psittacine Beak and Feather Disease: This disease infects birds less than 3 years old. The older bird can contract the disease up to the age of 20 years and does not shows any clinical symptom.Symptoms: Feather loss, abnormal pin feathers, abnormal mature feathers, lack of powder down, and beak abnormality.
Diagnosis: Based on the bird’s appearance, blood test, and biopsy of affected feather follicles. These tests detect infection in birds that don’t appear to have any symptoms.
Treatment: different medicines that support the bird’s immune system.
Bird PARASITIC DISEASES
Protozoa (Haemoproteus, Leucocytozoon, Plasmodium, and Toxoplasma spp) is not very common in pet birds.
Gastrointestinal parasiteSymptoms: Adult infected birds exhibit intense feather picking in the wings and inner thigh. The affected bird will be vocalized. Infected bird has oily plumage and pale, wet, voluminous droppings.
Giardia is seen in cockatiels and budgerigars. Giardiasis may be fatal in nestling budgerigars.
Diagnosis: direct fecal exam under the microscope and or check the parasite enzyme in fecal.
Treatment: antibiotics Trichomoniasis is seen in canaries, finches, budgerigars, and young Amazon parrots.
Symptoms: Loss of apatite, weight loss and possibly death.
RoundwormsThe same breed of parrots often infected by Ascaridia spp.
Symptoms: Weakness, emaciation, and death; intestinal obstruction is the cause of death. Diagnosis: Fecal flotation or necropsy.
Tapeworms:Cockatoos, African gray parrots, and finches are the most common breeds infected with the tapeworms.
Symptoms: Infected birds don’t show any symptoms.
Diagnosis: History; identification of parasite by testing fecal.
Treatment: Injection or oral medication.
Lice: Infests cockatiels and canaries.
Symptoms: Anemia, weight loss, and not singing.
Diagnosis: Observing the agent on a bird’s skin.
Treatment: Topical medication.
Scaly Face (Leg): Mange Mite is infectious to budgerigars. Feather Mites: Seen in canaries.
Symptoms: White, porous, proliferative encrustations involving the corners of the mouth, cere, eyelids, and beak.
Diagnosis: Identifying the causative agent on the slide under a microscope.
Treatment: Injection or topical medication
Symptoms: Restlessness (especially at night), anemia, and death.
Diagnosis: Visual inspection, and microscopic confirmation.
Treatment: Topical medication or injection.
Bird RESPIRATORY PARASITES
Air Sac Mites: Infect the entire respiratory tract, more common in canaries and rarely found in Gouldian finches, and psittacines.Symptoms: Sneezing, tail bobbing, and open-mouth breathing.
Deferential diagnosis: Yeast infection, respiratory bacterial infection, dust, and fume.
Diagnosis: Illumination of the trachea in a dark room, CBC, necropsy.
Treatment: Oral or injection medication.
Bird TUMORSSymptoms: In most cases are weight loss, vomiting, dehydration, not bearing weight on one leg, and restlessness.
Diagnosis: X-ray, blood work, a biopsy of the infected organ.
Treatment: By removing the tumor and/or using chemotherapy in most cases.
Bird TOXICITIESNonstick coating on pans may give off a lethal gas if overheated.
Symptom: Seizures in birds.
Diagnosis: History of the bird being solely in the kitchen, viewing the seizers.
Treatment: Keep the bird away from the kitchen.
Heavy metal intoxication caused most of the time by Lead and Zink.
Symptoms: vomiting, liquid pink or brown droppings, green urats, weakness, dizziness, and seizures.
Deferential diagnosis: Yeast infection, diarrhea of any sources, Diagnosis:
Treatment: injections of EDTA or any other reversible agents.
- Radiography (X-ray)
- Serum levels of lead and Zink
Bird DISEASES OF UNCERTAIN ETIOLOGY(the cause is unclear)
Macaw wasting disease:
Symptoms: Chronic weight loss, vomiting, and enlarged proventriculus (stomach). In advanced cases, nervous behavior, crop inflation, and abnormal droppings are seen.
Differential diagnosis: Heavy metal intoxication, foreign objects in the body, intestinal obstruction, internal papillomatosis, internal tumor, and gastrointestinal infectious disease.
Diagnosis: Requires biopsy of the proventriculus.
Treatment: Provide soft food to the infected bird.
Cockatiel Upper Respiratory Disease: seen in recently shipped, stressed, and young cockatiels.
Symptoms: Head shaking or sneezing, conjunctivitis, and inflamed nare (nose).
Differential diagnosis: (psittacosis), mycoplasma, and Bordetella.
Diagnosis: Based on the result of laboratory testing.
Treatment: Supportive therapy and antibiotics.
Cloacae papillomas (internal warts): Seen as a flock problem particularly in breeding Amazon and macaws.
Symptoms: Cauliflower pink tissue in prolapsed cloacae. It can spread to the mouth and upper GI tract.
Differential diagnosis: Prolapsed cloacae, egg binding.
Diagnosis: Gross appearance (seen without the aid of a microscope), test with apple cider vinegar, a biopsy of the tumor.
Treatment: Surgery and autogenously vaccines might help.
Lipomas: can be caused by low thyroid, genetic factors, and obesity.
Diabetes Mellitus:Symptoms: Drinking and urinating more.
Differential diagnosis: Heavy metal toxicity and yeast infection.
Diagnosis: High glucose levels in the blood and urine.
Gout - Causes are dehydration, high protein diet, and kidney failure.
Symptoms: Painful wing and leg joints.
Diagnosis: X-ray and uric acid level in blood. The uric acid deposits can be seen through the skin.
Treatment: Low protein high vitamin (A) good quality diet and medical therapy. Surgical removal of these abscesses is not recommended.
Feather cysts - caused by ingrown feathers.
Symptoms: granule–like masses on the skin.
Feather picking: The most important causes are boredom, infectious diseases, parasites, heavy metal intoxication, sexual or social stress, fear or nervousness, and psychological factors.
Symptoms: Picking feathers form chest, wings, and legs.
Differential diagnosis: All the above.
Diagnosis: X-ray, blood work, gram stein of mouth and fecal swab (bacterial and yeast), fecal worm check.
Treatment: Depends on the cause of the problem.