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Q: I have a healthy cockateil with no symptoms of being sick but I have noticed a black spot on the heel of her foot. After looking closely, I saw a tiny spot starting on the other foot, too. I have seen tiny spots of blood on her perch from the foot. I need to know what this could be and a treatment before it gets any worse. Thank you.
A: This sounds like a case of what we call bumblefoot. I advise you make an appointment with an avian veterinarian as soon as possible as these came be hard to cure. - Lonnie Kasman DVM
A: Anemia can be the result of bone marrow disfunction (ie. cancer, depression secondary to systemic disease), destruction of the red blood cells (i.e. lead toxicity, autoimmune disease), and external blood loss to name a few reasons. Since your bird has concurrent bacterial & yeast infections, I would suspect this is a depression anemia caused by a chronic disease state or viral/chlamydia infection. This bird should be screened for heavy metal toxicity, Psittacosis & viral diseases such as PBFD . I don't know the age of your bird or the white blood cell status of it so it is difficult to try and guide you in the right direction. I think the bacterial/yeast problem is secondary to some other disease state and the anemia should resolve when this is determined and treated. Again, I would rule out the following..Psittacosis, Aspergillis, PBFD, and lead toxicity. An electrophoresis can help demonstrate a chronic disease state. Yes, birds can act fine when seriously ill. They are great at masking disease states but only to a point and they then crash and burn. - Dr. Michael Weiss
A: Regurgitation can be either behavorial or pathologic in nature. Unfortunately, the bird should be seen by an veterinarian. This problem can be due to a variety of conditions including bacterial, fungal, viral, parasitic and toxins. There is really nothing you can do at home but be prepared to travel to see an avian veterinarian. - Dr. Michael Weiss
A: Your vet may want to perform a sinus culture to rule out the possibilty of a chronic sinus infection. Another consideration would be an allergic condition. These conditions can lead to recurrent infections. -Judy St. Leger
Q: "Fred" (A 5yr old Mitred Conure) came to live with us and then I bought Sylvie - a silver colored budgie. Sylvie seemed to be adjusting quite well. Initially, Fred seemed to be settling in quite comfortably. He was eating well (combination of seeds, fresh fruit and vegies, fresh water [am & pm] and petstore treats) 2 weeks ago. Now (3rd week with Fred) he seems to be scratching considerably, (I have mite catchers strategically placed in his aviary). I see NEW feathers coming into place in quill like covering. He seems to be getting nasty with the others in my home - as though he's afraid they'll steal his stage. I spend from 3-4 hours alone with Fred during which time he is curious and attentive, not screeching or biting as he starts up the moment the children arrive home - it worsens yet once my hubby gets in the door! In this last week Fred has also begun showing a rather runny stool. Although my cat's vet is a wonderful man he is not an avian expert and although he will make all the effort to help in the world...he just doesn't know enough to help. He connected me to an avian specialist (3 hrs from home) closest to us. I have an appointment for me and Fred next week to see her. But at the time of this writing it is still 10 days away. Yesterday Fred began sneezing and the scratching has worsened. I'm not sure what could (if anything) have upset him so suddenly other than an illness - and he's certainly showing signs from all that I've read! OR is this typical of a molt? Does he have a *cold* allergies* ?
A: Some of the behaviour changes you describe may be Fred's personality coming out. It does sound like you were warned that this could happen. But with the attention you are providing, you may be able to overcome things with time - 2 weeks isn't very long. MUCH more importantly, you have also described an ill bird. Coming to a new home can act as incentive for infections in birds. Allergies are not usually responsible for sneezing in birds like they are in people. I advise phoning the avian vet and asking for a sooner appointment to get your bird checked ASAP. This will help with you management questions as well as health concerns. -Judy St. Leger
A: If you have seen a change in the feces there are many conditions that could cause it. Parasites are a possibilty as well as bacterial and fungal infections, and possibily even a mass. Your vet can look at feces under the microscope an look for blood to better evaluate this. Good luck! -Judy St. Leger
Q: I have a 7 year old umbrella cockatoo. About 8 months ago I took him in for his regular check-up. Everything looked fine, with great plumage and good musculature. However, he had a bacterial infection and was given antibiotics. That helped clear him up, but to clean his cage I changed his perches, and I don't know what type of wood they were, but he stripped the bark clean in about 7 days. When we brought him back to the vet, his LDH level was above 2000 and his Uric acid level was 7. We started feeding him allopurinol in the water, but we returned 2 weeks later and his level was even higher, to 10 uric acid and 1900 LDH. We removed the perches and started him on allupurinol directly in to the mouth with Probenicid. His level a month later dropped to 7 uric acid and 1300LDH. We though everything was fine, started to ween him off his medicine, and his level dropped to 5 uric acid and 1600 LDH. One month later, his levels shot up to 10 uric acid and 2000 LDH. It sounds like some sort of kidney disease, but nothing about his environment has changed. He has been on the same pelleted diet for 7 years, and gets a wide variety of human food to supplement it. When looking at the bird, nothing appears to be wrong. His weight is still good and he plays well. He is back on .1cc allopurinal a day and .3cc probenicid every other day to get his levels back down. Any suggestions as to what might be wrong would be most helpful. We are starting ot change his food to the Organic Course Ground stuff, which name escapes me. Anything else we can do? His perches now are birch, but still nothing else has changed in his environment. Thank you.
A: This is a case where I don't have enough info. If a kidney problem or gout are suspect, a radiograph is a must and a kidney biopsy should be considered. You might also consider an electrophoresis which gives an indication of acute or chronic infection or inflammation. Uric acid can also be elevated in liver disease as can LDH. Bile acid determination would rule that out. - Lonnie Kasmin, D.V.M.
Q: I have cockatiels diagnosed with bordetella avium. Two chick have lockjaw and I understand that there is no cure for them. My concern is for my other birds which I hope to continue to breed (4 pairs). http://members.tripod.com/~cockatiels4u/bavium.htm describes treatment for the non-symptomatic birds that will erradicate the disease. In talking to other people there is no cure for them - that they will continue to carry the disease for the rest of their life. Please help with this descrepancy. Distraught and unhappy.
A: The questions with B. avium are due to our lack of research in this area. I recommend treating asymptomatic birds, routine choanal cultures in breeders, and strict control of environmental hygiene to control this bacterial infection. While some folks do recommend putting birds to sleep to eliminate carriers, I do not feel that this action is necessary. If lockjaw reoccurs next season, stop breeding immediately and treat. Good luck with your birds, -Judy St. Leger
A: As far as bathing, you might consider taking your bird in the shower weekly or provide a bowl in the cage for him to bathe. You also might consider a covered water dish that he can't get his feet in. I would be concerned about repeated irritation to his head. - Lonnie Kasman D.V.M.
A: There are a number of tricks that can be useful in helping a bird stop laying. Because diet is important in the signals to start and stop, a good diet is the first defense. BUT - once continuous laying has begun, prevention is out of the question. Correction can focus on a number of fronts. First, leave the eggs with her. By removing the eggs as she lays them, your friend is removing some of the natural feedback cues that help a bird know when to say when. After the female has tended her clutch (for a Quaker 2 - 5 eggs)for 8-10 days, it is usually safe to remove the eggs. If this doesn't do the job, decreasing her light exposure may be helpful in resetting her biological clock. A simple cover will help (perhaps you covered her and your friend does not). There are some medical alternatives as well (hormone injections) but I would not suspect that you will need these if you give the above options a good try. Good luck - Judy St. Leger
A: It sounds like it could be a ingrown feather follicle. Obviously I would recommend getting it checked out. Whether it is an emergency is really up you. - Dr. Lonnie Kasman
A: No need to rush to the new vet as long as the bird is not picking at the site. You do need to set up an appointment with your regular vets as this could be an "ingrown" follicle and likely needs some attention. Good luck - Judy St. Leger, DVM
Q: Dear Doctor, one day I suddenly noticed my cockatiel had a gumball sized cyst coming out of her bottom area between the cloaca and her groin. My vet said it was a cyst coming from her ovaries and performed surgery. Unfortunately, it grew back in 5 months. Is there anything that can be done for my sweet little girl? She is eating well and acting well except the cyst seems to sometimes irritate her. the doctor has drained it but it just fills up again. I even tried giving her flaxseed oil in the water which shrunk it considerably but it grew back again. What can I do besides just stand by and watch her have to endure this cyst?
A: From your description it is a little difficult to determine what this cyst is. I would recommend speaking frankly with your vet. Did she/he revove the ovary? Where did this cyst come from? Is it an enlarged and retained follicle? Is it in the skin or the belly? One of the limitations of internet advice is that the problem needs to be easy to define. Given that Maria has an uncommon problem, I would recommend a frank talk with your vet. Before the call write down any questions you have - i.e. 1. Where is this cyst from exactly? 2. Has the ovary been removed? 3. Is there any way to change the management to reduce the cyst size? During the call take notes. Specifically ask the vet to help you set down a plan to manage this problem. After the call organize your notes and thoughts. Write down a plan of action. It may be that there are no good options in this case. It may be that another surgery is needed. It may be that your vet would like another vet to see the bird for a second opinion. In any case weigh the plusses and minuses keeping the best interest of you and your bird in mind. - Judy St. Leger
Q: We have a greater sulphur crested cockatoo(galerita). Some time ago she developed a welt on her shoulder. We immediately took her to our avian vet, who took samples of the fluid inside the welt,and told us it was NOT cancer, thank God. He then cut the welt and the fluid squirted out. He then told us if he does not take out the sack inside the welt completely that it will come back. And it did not only on her shoulder but also under the wing. We keep draining the welts, but they keep getting bigger and spreading. PLEASE advice us what to do. We called our vet and asked if he could operate so he could get all the sacks out so it will not come back, but were told he couldn't - if this keeps up we know we are going to lose her and we Love her so Much. PLEASE help us with your advice, Since we are on the Island of Maui with one Vet.
A: The condition you describe is uncommon. These cysts could arise from any number of tissues in the wing. They could result from a bacterial infection, or even changes like cancer. I would recommend having 1 or at least part of one removed and examined by a pathologist to find out where these come from, and what the heck they are. Lancing sounds like a short term fix - in the long run, repeated visits for lancing may cost much more than surgery to remove the cysts. Also, repeated needle sticks can lead to bacterial infection. My suggestion is if the cysts are something you vet thinks should and can be removed, consider it strongly. Surgery is not a cure - all. There could be surgical and post-op problems to deal with as well. Overall, if conservative management of an atypical problem doesn't solve the problem, more intense work is usually required. - Judy St. Leger
A: In response to the question concerning obesity, the best way to monitor this is to feel the breast bone. The breast muscles should not bulge higher than the bone itself. Fatty deposits around the vent can indicate obesity but an enlarged abdomen due to organ enlargement could give the same impression. Have the bird examined by an avian veterinarian who could discuss nutrition and weight control. - Lonnie Kasman D.V.M.
Q: We have a multi bird household and I have a few things going on that baffle myself and my vet. All the birds have had psittacosis tests - all negative. A Blue headed Pionus named Athena is SEVERELY thin. We have run every test we can think of and now the suggestion of cronic malnutrition has come up from another source. Can you give me your opinion on "chronic malnutrition"?
A: Chronic malnutrition should be evaluated in a few ways. First - DIET, DIET, DIET. If you are feeding a complete diet (pellet based supplement with veggies and fruit) and the bird is still doing poorly, you do not have malnutrition - you have what we call malabsorption (in other words, what you offer is correct, what the bird's body gets is not). Conditions which could produce this include chronic bacterial or fungal infections, chronic damage to the pancreas causing food not to be broken down correctly, chronic damage to the intestines either by infiltration (conditions like avian TB), viral damage to intestinal transport (such as occurs in macaw wasting, or PDD - a condition believed to be an avian viral disease), parasitic conditions of the entestines such as Giardia, Cryptosporidia, or nematodes (commonly ascarids) or cestodes (tapeworms), or infiltration of the intestines with conditions like cancer. You can easily see that with a history of chronic weight loss, I have a shopping list of conditions, and an associated list of tests to evaluate these possibilities.
Testing for your bird could include: - A fecal flotation, FA for Giardia and Crypto, a direct exam for protozoa, and an acid fast stain for TB organisms - A CBC and chemistry screen to evaluate for chronic infection, and an Aspirgillosis titer, as well as checking titers for Chlamydia (a test not usually performed to look for possible psittacosis), and pancreatic enzyme levels to evaluate the pancreas - Aerobic and anaerobic cloacal cultures as well as fecal and crop Gram stains - X rays to evaluate the intestines, maybe even with some barium to see how fast things move through the intestines. Lastly, intestinal biopsies can be helpful in diagnosing infiltrative conditions and PDD in birds.
Now, I know you are thinking, "My God" do you have to do all of that?" A step-wise approach may make the answers come forth without needing to do everything. But if you ask "What can we do?" These are your options for solving the puzzle and finding out if it can be corrected and how. - Judy St. Leger
A: Micrococcus is a Gram positive organism which commonly is found on normal skin and in the mouth of both people and birds. It is generally thought of as "safe" except in immune compromised folks/pets. I suspect that your vet isn't treating for the Micrococcus - Baytril is not one of the drugs I would use if I thought that this was the problem. What it sounds like he/she is doing (and correctly so) is treating the birds! The Micrococcus suggests that the problem is not nearly as bad as it could be (a nasty Gram negative organism would have been much worse). Talk to your vet about when the right time to stop medication is. It sounds like you are doing a good job keeping things clean - I love HEPA filters. Your bird do not need to live in a bubble. They have an immune system which should work better if there are things for it to fight!! Remember, good nutrition (are these guys on a primarily pelleted diet?) also plays an important role in treating and preventing upper respiratory disease. Humidity helps as well. Don't make your house a sauna - but I suspect that you may sneeze also if it is too dry. If the sneezing continues - call your vet for a recheck. It sounds like they are doing a good job for you. -Judy St. Leger
A: Epidermoptids mites are burrowing mites which cause crusting and feather loss especially around the head and neck. The area itches terribly. Your question suggests that a biopsy has been performed and that a possibility of cancer may have been suggested. Is this correct? Treatments for these mites should include Ivermectin and possibly topical medication to control the mites. A related kind of mite, Knemidokoptes, responds very well to this therapy. However, with the question of cancer, a failure to completely respond to therapeutic options should be cause to repeat biopsies to be sure that you are not overlooking a potentially difficult diagnosis. This sounds like a difficult and frustrating(not to mention itchy) problem. Please let us know what happens. -Judy St. Leger
A: This is a gram negative bacteria which can be associated with disease in birds. The head shaking is normal in greys but one must rule out any pathological process. If the CBC is normal and the bacteria numbers were low, I don't know if I would jump the gun to antibiotics and antifungals. Probably, a recheck in a month after the bird is adjusted to the new surroundings would be a better thing to do in this case. - Dr. Michael Weiss
A: I am assuming the culture was obtained from the choanal slit "roof of the mouth"? Klebsiella is just one of a number of gram negative bacteria isolated by culture. Was a CBC performed? That may show if the bird was mounting a response. Any discharge from the nares? There could be a sinus infection going on. You didn't say if the bird was showing any lower respiratory signs (tail flagging, panting after little activity). This doesn't sound like pneumonia but a radiograph would confirm that. A follow up culture should be performed to make sure the infection has been cleared. I also recommend a formulated diet (Harrisons or comparable) to keep your little guy on the highest nutritional plane- Dr. Lonnie Kasmin, D.V.M.
A: I would say it is only dangerous if they consume a large amount and get impacted. Why are you using it? Newspaper, paper towels, butcher paper or grocery bags are all safe for cage liners. - Lonnie Kasman D.V.M.
A: First, if the bird is not alone in it's cage, it's cagemate is probably the cause. If alone, it may be due to some form of dermatitis, rubbing on objects or something more serious such as Psittacine Beak & Feather Disease. - Dr. Michael Weiss
Q: I have a one year old Grand Eclectus Parrot. About six months ago, I noticed he had a lot of black marks/spots on his feathers. I read that this can either be fatty diet or liver problems and that it's very easy to tell the difference. My question is how can I tell which it may be and how do I get rid of them. My bird seems to be very happy. He doesn't eat fatty foods. His diet consists of Pretty Bird Eclectus pellets and occasionally I feed him some friuts and mostly mixed vegetables. He has not grown in enough new feathers to really see if it's getting better, but as far as I've seen, the new ones are free of spots. Please help.
A: I wish I was smart enough to look at dark spots on feathers and know what caused them. I am unaware of a quick distinction. I would recommend getting this guy checked to make sure the liver is working OK, and that the feathers are free from infection. -Judy St. Leger
Q: I have adopted an amazon which is 8 years old. I was told that it should be green with a yellow head, But she is an orange color, the head kind of yellow and the tips of the feathers are green, but in most part the bird is an orange color. The bird was fed those formed foods, and I suspect that the red in the food has, has turned her orange. She has been off that food for a year now. The bird has been getting nothing but regular seed, food and vitamins in the water. But the bird is still orange. What can I do?
A: The orange may be the "normal" feather coloration for this bird. We frequently see color mutations - this is how some of the weird color patterns in bred birds develop. It is unlikely to be the result of the diet. However, I do recommend the pelleted diets far above the seed diets. Because liver disease can cause alterations in feather color (although I do not suspect it in this case), I would consider a vet check for this bird. The vet may not feel that anything special is needed - a pretty good bargain: for the price of a vet visit, you may get a lot of questions answered. -Judy St. Leger
Q: I have a Grand Eclectus who is exactly 1 year old and has had black spots/marks on his feathers for several months. Through a lot of research I have found that this may be due to a fatty diet, stress or liver problems. My eclectus strictly eats fruits, veggies and Kay-Tee pellets. He learns tricks and phrases at an incredible rate and is extremely sweet but I don't know if he may be stressed nevertheless. As for his liver, I do not know how to tell if they are liver disease spots although one article I read stated that "liver spots" were very different from those caused by fat or stress. Not only am I worried but it is frustrating because my bird's feathers as not as beautiful as they should be. Thank you very much for your help, a concerned parrot owner.
A: The question did not state if the bird hs been examined by an avian veterinarian. The "black spots" on the feathers can be due to malnutrition. Of course only a complete physical exam and bloodwork etc. can tell you. Please take advantage of all we know about birds and have your loving friend checked out! - Lonnie Kasman D.V.M.
Q: Dear Drs: Although I have already decided NOT to go through with the following procedure recommended by one of our local avian vets, I would like to understand WHY such a suggestion would have been made in the first place. I have recently adopted a 4-year old male Eclectus whose previous owners kept him in a very small cage and did not let him out. Consequently, most of his left wing and some of his right wing feathers are broken - most on the left are really short - and some of his tail feathers are also broken. I took him to the vet's office for an overall check up, and when he looked at the wings and tail he said they had to come out. He wanted to schedule an appointment as soon as possible (as if it were urgent) and said the feathers would not molt if we didn't take them out because when the hormones cause the quill to release, it is the weight of the feather's length that causes it to fall. He said if we didn't remove them, they would split to the skin, cause irritation, cause him to become a feather picker and become infected. He wanted to do it under anesthesia. I posted his suggestion on a few chats and EVERYONE said DON'T DO IT. When my regular avian vet returned to work, I told him what his colleague had recommended, and he too suggested that I wait, that the procedure was only necessary if my bird was chewing or picking or had an infection. He said by pulling them there was a danger of developing follicle cysts, or stressing my bird. As I said, I am not going to go through with the procedure now because my bird doesn't seem the least bit bothered by his condition - and we think he's pretty, regardless. But I want to understand why he made the recommendation. What do you think about feather pulling under anesthesia? - Jo
A: I've never heard of pulling such a large number of feathers at a time. I probably would not do it, but again, without seeing the bird... The logic is correct and I do see birds that chew feathers that dont seem to molt. I would recommend basic bloodwork, review of husbandry and diet. Possibly pull some of the broken feathers a few at a time depending on diagnosis, response to treatment etc. - Lonnie Kasman, DVM
A: Rather than focus on "shocking behaviour", try calling the vet that performed the surgery for suggestions. It sounds like a follow-up concern. If she is still brooding, the surgery may not have effected her gonads as we expect it to. Management options vary and include light modification, changes in diet and feeding, and hormone treatments. But go back to the vet for imput on this one. -Judy St. Leger
Q: We have two yellow naped amazons, clinically sexed to be male and female and approximately the same age (20 or so). I bought the male to be a potential mate for the female when she started getting "nippy" at 15 years of age. Unfortunately, they absolutely HATE each other and would definitely seriously injure themselves if allowed to come in contact. Is there any hope in getting them to at least tolerate each other?
A: I'm an avian vet, not an amazon parrot expert but I've run into the same problem. I have a (now) 18 year old wild caught yellow nape that was never friendly with people but a beautiful bird. I have tried pairing her with several males but it hasn't worked out. Have tried all types of situations. Good luck. - Lonnie Kasman D.V.M.
Q: Dear Doctors, I have a yellow nape amazon who is 8 years old. I have always referred to the bird as a "he" although lately I have been wondering if I have a "she." The bird has been spending time in the bottom of the cage, doing what looks like he is "making out" with his toys by hanging from them and making whimpering sounds while moving his tail up and down. To be blunt, he looks like he may be masturbating or something. The other evening, he climbed down his cage, to the floor (which he always does in order to get to me), and he began this strange behavior which he has never done on the floor before. He was whimpering and had his legs spread apart, squatting so low I could not see his legs or feet. I honestly thought he was going to lay an egg. Obviously, I have never had the bird sexed, but am considering it the next time he goes in for nail and beak trims, which will be soon. Is there any information you can offer about this behavior? Murrey is very much bonded to me and sees me as his mate. He does all the typical Amazon behavior of flaring pupils (I call it dancing pupils!), fanned out tail, and raised feathers above the nostrils. He "stalks" me from the top of his cage and sometimes is very aggressive towards me. I have been bitten repeatedly, especially during the spring through summer months...and I mean HARD bites. He bites my hand with such pressure it breaks the skin and bruises me...pretty nasty looking. I have been told all this behavior is because I am his chosen mate and I am not breeding with him. By the way, Murrey is a very healthy, happy, and well adjusted parrot who dearly loves his "Mommy." My avian vet loves him and always comments about how healthy and strong he is...of course I can testify first "hand" about that! Any information you can give will be appreciated; thank you in advance.
A: This indeed sounds like typical behavior for a female amazon. What you did mention is that your bird is on top of the cage. This should be lower than you, as this bird should never be allowed to be above you. This small step may make it easier to control this bird and curtail some of the biting. Good Luck. - Lonnie Kasman D.V.M.
A: Prosthetic beaks can be made from dental acrylics, but are not usually made for individuals as small as a budgie. Assuming you are hand feeding this bird successfully, it might be more adviseable to teach it to eat a soft diet that it can scoop up with its mandibular beak, tilt back and swallow. In larger birds beak prostheses need to be wired into the bones of the head and occasionally need repair or replacement. That would be a lot to put a Budgie through. - Don Factor, DVM
A: This condition is common and what we do is apply a prothesis to the upper beak to allow it to grow over the lower. Beak Repair material is available from ELMAN out of NY. It is applied so that the prothesis extends over the lower beak. What is happening to your bird is the upper beak is continually being kept short by friction from the lower beak. - Dr. Michael Weiss
A: This is a tough one to council you on. It's possible that this bird is simply in an environment which is just too dry or that he/she does not get enough omega 3 fatty acids as part of its new diet. It sounds like cage damage on its tail and it may need a larger space or even a cage free environment. It's also possible that something is "wrong" but the diagnosis can be like looking for a needle in a haystack. The disorders which are known for causing syndromes of chronic poor doing are many, and include viral proventricular dilatation syndrome, aspergillosis and other fungal infections, TB infections, malnutrition, stress, etc. I think it's important to mention that broad spectrum vitamins that include vit.D3 should be used much less often, like twice weekly, not daily. A serum protein electrophoresis is a pretty sensitive test to get an idea of whether there is an internal problem and maybe an idea of what ballpark the game is in. - Don Factor, DVM
A: From your description of the event as well as the normal periods between events, it certainly sounds like a seizure disorder may be starting. There are also many other rule outs for an episodic occurance that could cause generalized muscle weakness without suppression of heart or lung function. Cardiac disorders can also present with episodes of syncope (ie. fainting). This bird should have a complete blood count and chemistries, a serum protein electrophoresis, an ECG and perhaps radiographs and specific testing for lead and aspergillus as first round testing. The results may point you in a direction for further testing. Remember, the diagnosis of idiopathic epilepsy is made by excluding all other diseases that can cause episodes like the ones you describe. This is definitely something that should be seen by an avian vet. In the meantime, be sure to keep a written log of when each event occurs, its duration, and how long to complete recovery for your vet. - Don Factor, DVM
A: Diagnosis of hypothyroidism in birds is difficult with current testing available. The testing that is used is canine based and the results are very questionable. The best way to tell is with a skin biopsy. Karen Rosenthal, DVM at Antech Diagnostics in NY can help your vet with what testing she feels may help with a diagnosis. By nature of the condition these birds should also be overweight. The poor weight on this bird may actually be a result of the thyroid medication if the bird is not a true hypothyroid case. If the diagnosis is a result of the feather problem I would probably stop the medication for a while and see what happens, then do a skin biopsy and ancillary testing for low thyroid.. - Dr. Michael Weiss
A: E.Coli is an organism which is ubiquitous, meaning that it is everywhere in the environment unless you live in a bubble with no other living creatures. A healthy adult bird will be exposed and should be able to tolerate some exposure to E.Coli and other gram negative bacteria without getting sick. When the bacteria colonizes the lining of the GI tract it damages the cells by secreting toxic substances thus creating a clinical disease. For neonates, the exposure can be heavy enough to overwhelm the individual. Remember, when you do cultures do gram stains too, to try to get a picture of whether there is an overwhelming number of gram negatives present. You must also remember to completely reevaluate the nesting and incubating of the eggs and chicks. Humidity, air exchange and removal of the dead air space around the eggs, etc. are all extremely important and will contribute significantly to the viability of the newborn. Another major area of concern is the dietary status of the adults. Chick mortality goes up when the parents eat seeds as a primary dietary staple. - Don Factor, DVM
A: From your description, I can visualize many possibilities concerning African Greys, feather plucking, diet, humidity, hyperkeratosis and foot lesions. A few points should be raised.. - the African Grey parrot does not commonly get mites, but it is possible. Prolonged use of ivermectin has been known to cause problems in some individuals. It would be wise to continue to recheck skin scrapes. - Roudybush, while a well formulated product is only a part of Andrew's total diet. Dr. Harrison of Harrison's Bird Diet, an all natural pellet available from vets, says that the more you dilute a totally balanced diet with other things, the less balanced it becomes. Remember you should try to keep all the non-pelleted foods to within 10-15% of the overall daily intake. It sounds like you have a vet who does not give up easily on tough problems, and that's half the battle. As a species, Grey's can be really hard to "cure" . Be careful not to confuse a bird's obsession with his feathers and skin with "itching". It is possible that refeathering at a certain stage can "bother" the bird, but they may not be the same and may need a different approach. Good luck. - Don Factor, DVM
A: Aside from diet, day/night, etc, some other things to think about might be humidity and whether this is normal avian behavior for their current stage of feather development. If the behavior disappears in 4 weeks naturally, you may be making too much of what you're seeing. You must be sure that all of the extra calcium that you are using does not also contain vitamin D3, and you should probably have your vet recheck the blood calcium levels to see if they've come up into the normal range. - Don Factor, DVM
A: There is no "miracle medicine" that I know of for older breeders. Just as people slow down as they age, so do birds. It is always a good idea to evaluate birds that have started to fail in their normal "production". Just as with a younger bird, this requires a review of management, nutrition and health. If these all check out, and the breeder is indeed, a senior citizen, maybe it's time to think about retirement.
Older birds make good pets. Where younger birds may be too active and boisterous, retired breeders may be much more calm and sedate. - Judy St. Leger
A: Granted, there are not many avian vets in Iowa, but my AAV directory does have over 12 names. Most are in Ames, but there are also some in Davenport, Des Moines, Cedar Falls, etc. I strongly suggest that if the owner is interested, this bird see someone who will persue the current diagnosis and therapy. The phone number for the AAV student chapter at the Veterinary school in Ames is (515) 294-4900. This office should be able to get them to the nearest avian specialist. - Don Factor, DVM
A: Carefully, not to cut the blood vessel. If you've never done this before, use a file instead. Hold each toe firmly while filing. The alternative is to take the bird to someone who can show you how it's done. - Don Factor, DVM
A: This does not sound very good. I have seen this with cases of visceral gout in babies, hypoproteinemia, liver disease, PDD, polyomavirus and Avian Viral Serositis. I would first switch the formula type in case the present one is resulting in too much uric acid production in the diet. I would check uric acid levels, do fluid and cytologic analysis on the acitic fluid (classify as transudate vs. exudate), do a protein electrophoresis and check for Polyomavirus. An experienced avian vet should look at this bird. - Dr. Michael Weiss
A: What you have described is abdominal fluid - your vet may have described this to you as "ascites". Ascites in birds can result from problems with vessels such as vasculitis, or from liver or heart problems. These conditions can result from viral problems such as polyoma or Pachecos virus, bacterial conditions such as septicemia. Draining the fluid likely helped the bird to feel much better. Your vet will likely want to do some blood work, maybe cultures, and maybe some X-Rays. There is no specific condition which causes the findings you describe, but it looks like you have a good vet willing to investigate. - Judy St. Leger
A: I would suspect that, depending on the area you live, moist food that may be offered is growing yeast if left in the cage too long. This is due to the increased temperature this time of year. This is not uncommon. Diflucan is great for yeast infections and is a safe drug. - Dr. Michael Weiss
A: Unfortunately, this is a question that can only be answered by a human medical doctor. This condition does exist in people and is serious. Maybe removing the birds from the environment for a short time may help the diagnosis if your husband improves. - Dr. Michael Weiss
A: Unfortunately, there are lots of reasons why a lovebird might pick his/her feathers. Some have medical problems like bacterial, viral, or parasitic infections - I assume you and your vet have ruled these out. Some have allergies. Some just have behavioural problems. Lovebirds especially can have a problem where they actually chew on their wings. I recommend considering all these as possible problems. Is the diet good? Have you switched since the picking started? Have you done what you can to keep this kid from chewing out of boredom - move the cage, get new toys, leave the radio on. In other words, first check to make sure that your vet does not think it is a medical problem. Once this is set, then look towards dietary and behavioral changes to try to improve things. Feather pickers are hard for all sorts of birds and their friends (does ANYONE really own a bird???). Sadly, the answers are not usually easy. -Judy St. Leger
Q: Our young Blue & Gold was almost fully feathered when we got her, but would constantly bite small pieces of her wing feathers off and play with them. About a year ago, she started shredding up her chest feathers (and now only has down). She's continued tearing her wings apart and has now moved on to her tail. Her mutilating starts almost as a fit, like she's really itchy or somthing and quickly reaches around and bites off a piece of feather. Our avian vet has diagnosed her with all sorts of problems, most recently fungus (asper) and other infections. We've been nebulizing her 3 times a week, she's been on itraconizol for a few months and flagil off and on as well. It seems like every time we cure up one thing, something else pops up. Can you suggest a cause or a test our vet may not have though of? Also, can you suggest anything we can do in terms of boosting her immune system? She eats Harrison's pellets mostly and fruits and walnuts as treats. Also, I know that she is sick, but I question if any of her mutilation could be habitual or due to boredom? She lived with 3 other birds before we adopted her and is now home alone during the day while we're at work, (although she mutilates even when we are home). I just wonder if any of this could be caused by boredom or habit? Thanks.
A: Chronic infections can be due to underlying conditions which may suppress the immune system. Poor diet is one of those. However, your bird's diet is fine. Tests to rule out infection with psittacosis, PBFD, polyomavirus (usually not a problem in a bird this age) would be warrented if not done. Feather follicle biopsy and examination of the pulp could be undertaken. I think that by treating underlying disease conditions and maintaining a good diet, in time the bird will respond. Just cycle toys monthly, and give the bird plenty of alternative activities to discourage picking.. - Dr. Michael Weiss
Q: Dear Vet - We have 2 cockatiels and 1 african grey - all are approximately 1 1/2 yrs to 2 years old and in good health. Our problem is with our male tiel. Recently, about 2 months ago we noticed he had pulled all his feathers out underneath both wings and was always picking at that area. We started spray bathing him every day instead of twice a week, which seemed to help. We also gave him some bird mineral and vitamin dust over his food. He seemed to be growing them back again, and we have kept up the daily sprays and vitamins, but he has started again. He eats cockatiel pellets and we give him veggies and fruits every day - his water is changed daily and we clean his cage daily and take it out and wash it outside with small amt of bleach and water every one to two months. All of our birds are hand raised and very friendly - we are careful bout giving each of them attention. Please give me some suggestions on what may be causing this condition and what we can do to help Julio. I have not separated him from the other two birds as I'm afraid that would be traumatic for him. Should we take him to an avian specialist? Dr. Jeffrey Jenkins has treated them in the past and we are very happy with him, but I thought I would try this way before going to see him. Thank you for your help.
A: A check up is a great idea. There are conditions such as Giardia which can be treated and will lead to recurrent feather picking. Dr. Jenkins can diagnose this condition easily. Unfortunately, not all cases of feather picking are that easy to solve - but when the problem persists or reoccurs I strongly recommend veterinary evaluation. - Judy St. Leger
Q: I have a 2-year old African Grey Parrot who has been plucking his feathers for about a year. He is almost bald on his stomach, and his flight wings have been plucked also. He is not sick because he is very cheerful. He talks a mile a minute and throws kisses to the wind. I've tried spraying him with mite spray and have given him some vitamins for his plumage to no avail. He does not come out of his cage, though, because he is such a wild bird that he has made five holes in our venetian blinds and has ruined our vinyl kitchen chairs. I, however, do allow him to climb on top of his cage for about an hour while I supervise him. He does not like toys. He only likes to peck at a spoon that I play with him with. I play with him periodically and I really do not see any reason for him to be bored or frustrated. What can I do and what can be Sweety's problem?
A: Feather picking is a very complex issue. First, one must rule out any internal problems which may be contributing to the picking. As one example, liver infections may increase circulating chemicals which may make the bird itchy. Infections may make the bird irritable causing it to pick. Bird's may overpreen, have a broken feather which when the wings fold cause irritation. In an attempt to rectify this problem the bird damages more feathers making the problem worse. Birds may have bacterial/fungal infections of the feather follicles. They may have inhalation allergies (ie..smoke) and/or food allergies. Malnutrition is also a contributing factor. Emotional problems are also a common cause. You really need to seek a qualified avian veterinarian for help. He or she can test the bird for internal problem, do a feather follicle biopsy and counsel you on nutrition etc... - Dr. Michael Weiss
A: This bird needs to be examined by an avian vet! There are many reasons for feather picking. Applying "mite sprays" and adding vitamins to the water are two. If you care about this bird seek out a professional that can help you. Good luck!- Lonnie Kasman D.V.M.
Q: I have been considering getting an African Gray Congo. I have read a lot of horror stories about feather plucking(mainly) cuased by environment and disease. Are African grays more prone to disease than other birds? I like the C.A.G. very much and have been looking at a few, but I'm afraid of getting one because every book I read on them stress feather rot. Should I be? Also, what causes feather rot?
A: I'm not sure what causes feather rot because I'm not sure which feather disorder is referred to as "rot". Certainly, it is true that African Grey parrots seem to be prone to a number of health problems, many of which are related to an intelligent bird that is dissatisfied with its environment. Many of these stresses we actually cause because we try to make our bird into something it would rather not be. Poor diet, lack of humidity & not enough dark time at night are also common problems that can contribute to poor health, poor feathering or picking. There are also infectious diseases to which Greys are susceptible that can lead to severe problems. Owning a bird these days is a commitment, and the prospective owner should research and prepare ahead of time. Don't forget a quarantine from any other birds and a complete exam and consult by an avian vet once you are ready to get your new friend. The African Grey is a wonderful species that can bring years of joy, but like adding another child to a family, they can also bring a lifetime of everything else that goes along with having a new family member. - Don Factor, DVM
Q: Dear Doctors, I have a moluccan cockatoo that we rescued three weeks ago. She is a severe plucker and selfmutilator of her chest. When we picked her up we took her straight to the vet and she stayed there for four days. She was given HCG injection, antibiotics, a med. bath, as well as Cipro and one other antibiotic oral med. I then took her home and she is still one both oral meds twice daily. She wears a collar custom ordered from Florida Avian supplies. There is no extension on it. Her white count was extremely high, but all the cultures came back negative. Next week she is due for bloodwork again, so I wonder if there are any other diseases, problems I might have her tested for. She is being treated with doxycycline, even though Psittacosis has not been diagnosed for certain. She has had two doses of it. The third dose will be next Thursday, as will another HCG injection. This bird has COLD feet after sitting in one spot for a while, and it is not related to the footing she is on. Jaydee also seems to be uncomfortable on her feet at times during the day. She jerks her left foot repeatedly when settling in for a nap, or at times even when going to eat. Jaydee has a few sores on her feet as well as callouses. Her previous owner kept her ALONE and fed her mainly sunflower seeds for a long time. Since coming home Jaydee has enjoyed a better diet. She still gets seed in her diet, but now chooses to eat the pellets and fresh foods first! Jaydee has only the main flight feathers left and four tailfeathers. Her head plumage is fine. She has begun to grow some 'fluffy' down, unlike any other feathers I have seen on adult birds (they are VERY fine and easily TANGLED) She won't pull them out as long she has her collar on, although she can reach them.Thursday night at 3a.m. Jaydee cried out, and fell off her perch. I came to find her on the floor of her cage. She then went back to sleep and was fine. I wonder if it was a bad dream, or if her feet are at times unable to support her?? I wonder also, of the possibility of Aspergillosis testing on her? Any suggestions as to where to go from here with tests, treatment? Thank you.
A: Ah, the mutilating moluccan. I have had a run of these the past several weeks. Four to be exact. My approach is a complete work up including CBC, blood chemistries including bile acids, electrophoresis, Psittacosis / PBFD / Polyoma DNA, gram stains and feather follicle biopsy. I feel that moluccans are over-represented as mutilators and I strongly believe either they are more susceptible to dietary deficiencies, pathogenic processes or behavioral problems. I have had cases where liver pathology was the cause of the mutilation, female hormonal activity, feather follicle infections, tuberculosis, psittacosis and so on. It is a very difficult problem. One other point is that I have diagnosed osteomyelitis (bone infection) of the keel due to mutilation spreading of the secondary infection into the breast bone. In these cases the bone infection must be treated along with the skin wound. HCG has worked on many cases as has doxycycline treatment. Collaring the bird until the chest is fully feathered also has helped. Psychotrophic drugs may be of some use also. Correcting the diet to one of pellets will also help. This answer could take up pages. I think your vet is in the right thinking mode in his treatment. Good Luck. - Dr. Michael Weiss
A: I have found that a major mistake in submitting tissue samples to a pathologist when one suspects PDD is not including samples of spinal cord and brain. I have had many birds with PDD being diagnosed on nervous tissue samples with other tissues being inconclusive. - Dr. Michael Weiss
Q: My brother's bird died recently and was sent away to have a necropsy done which came back positive for macaw wasting disease. I need to know just how contagious this is for there are many birds involved. Our vet says that since my brother visited households with birds in them that could be cause enough to worry. Is it transmitted that easily just having him in our house petting the birds? Just how is this disease transmitted? For how long is it transmitted? Is it possible for a bird to have it and not show signs or symptoms of it and yet pass it around to other birds? My brother did bring his bird to other peoples houses for them to see but the birds did not have contact with each other.There are several households here now that are worried sick for the safety of there own birds. What can we do if anything to "disinfect" our house? Should my brother even be around our birds? This Hahns macaw that recently died was bought from a woman 400 miles west of here and she seems to think that we are lying to her about this because she says all of her birds are okay. The bird that died was only nine months old and has acted like that ever since day one. Our vet said that it came from the breeder so is it possible that she has it in her aviary and not know it? How long do we worry about our own birds having this deadly disease? Please let me know ASAP so others can know too. Thank you for your time in this matter.
A: There is a great deal that we do not know about the disease called "Macaw Wasting Disease", but we do know a little. It is caused by a virus which destroys the function of the nerve-muscle interface at the level of the GI tract. It is suspected that the incubation can be up to TEN YEARS, that is that cases have been documented where exposure was long before the onset of clinical disease. I have seen cases of known exposure over 1 year before onset of disease. There is no specific test in the living bird to detect exposure, and until there is actual dilation of the stomach or intestine it is not even detectable by survey Xrays. It is possible that there is a carrier of the virus in the aviary, but it is also possible that this young individual was exposed in the new environment and got sick right away. We do not know how hearty the virus is, thus every bird that has come in contact with anyone involved is potentially exposed. In answer to the specific questions, everyone involved has to worry, and probably should not stop for a long time. - Don Factor, DVM
A: PDD is a very scary disease. A virus has been implicated, however, research is currently underway to determine how the virus is spread and how it causes disease. A crop biopsy in a clinical bird may yield positive results suggestive of PDD in 65% of the cases. The best way to prevent spread is by strict sanitation and ventilation. Birds may carry the virus for prolonged periods of time before showing clinical signs. The birds exposed to this Hahns, if healthy, probably are ok. Their immune systems can mount a challenge to the virus and probably rid it. Just clean the heck out of everything this Hahns was in contact with and try not to worry. I doubt your brother could have carried the virus on his clothing or hands to the other households. If this were the case, my own birds probably would have contracted the disease long ago. I agree that the breeder needs to open her eyes and realize she has a problem. a BIG problem. Sorry I can't give you anymore info; it just does not exist as of yet. - Dr. Weiss
A: These are probably what are called keratin plugs and are no need for alarm. It may be related to poor diet, poor sanitation etc.. I probably would have it checked out to play it safe. There is an excellent avian vet in Fairfax..Scott Stahl, DVM @ Pender Veterinary Hospital if you don't have an avian vet already. - Dr. Michael Weiss
A: Amazons, as well as many avian species, have bony structure inside the nostrils. It is easier to see into some species, and even in some individuals than in others. From the description given,one cannot tell if this owner is seeing normal anatomy, or if there is something in this bird's nares. It is not uncommon to need to reach in to a bird's nose to remove feather debris, food material, etc. for those of us that do that sort of thing often, but I cannot tell you if this is something to need removal without the assessment of a trained and experienced avian vet. It would probably not hurt your bird to take a cotton tipped swab (ie, Q-tip) moistened with water and gently moisturize and move the debris in the nostril. It may come right out and solve the problem. If it persists, I would take your bird to someone who can do more. - Don Factor, DVM
A: It doesn't sound like psittacosis was actually diagnosed in your bird. Was a probe or titer performed on blood? However, the disease can be far worse than the treatment. So... My first recommendation - CONTINUE MEDICATION. Your bird may be sensitive to the taste of the medication and not the drug itself. Injections are a logical next step. Next... if you own a bird, you should take on the responsibility to learn about psittacosis. This can be a very serious disease in people. If your bird is sick and suspected of having this disease, consider going to your doctor for titer testing. As in birds, the treatment can be simple and curative when performed appropriately. - Judy St. Leger
A: Some web sites with information about psittacosis in birds and, more importantly, people:
A: It is very common for birds to vomit on doxycycline, either oral or injectable. The injection may cause vomiting the day of administration, thus an advantage over vomiting every day. Was a CBC ever run on this bird and/or electrophoresis? If not, I would recommend it to help with the diagnosis. - Dr. Michael Weiss
Q: Why is the treatment for psittacosis 45 days? I have asked several different sources and have received vague and varied answers. No other antibiotic treatment is this long except TB.
A: The Chlamydial organism reproduces by infecting the cells of the host. Generally this occurs at the site of infection. During this localized initial phase, the organism enters the cell, undergoes transition to a larger form which is seen by pathologists as an inclusion within the cell, and through growth and division produces hundreds of chlamydia. Once the cell ruptures, these organisms are released to infect more cells. When the cell does not rupture, the organisms are kept "hidden" and the individual is a carrier who could shed the organism at any time. Chlamydia infections can persist in a clinically inapparent state with intermittent shedding of the organism over long periods of time. Many birds, especially Budgies, Cockatiels, and Lovebirds can remain assymptomatic carrier birds for their entire lifetime. The problems that we have encountered are both in the diagnosis as well as the treatment of the infection. When the organisms are hiding, they are not detectable and medication does not reach them. Thus, many carrier birds test negative and many birds treated for Chlamydia relapse at later times because the infection was not totally eradicated. A 45 day protocol has been the standard for over 15 years because during this time, it was felt, most birds would expose their "hidden" organisms and be cured. Of course, we know now that it is not that easy, and even with a 45 day protocol, some carriers go on being carriers, while others go on undetected and never get treated. By the way, therapy for TB can go on for a LOT longer than 45 days. - Don Factor, DVM
A: Treatment of Chlamydia (the organism that causes psittacosis) is based on attacking the organism when the drugs can get at it. The Chlamydia organisms have a complex life cycle. While in the body, they spend a good deal of time within cells as a structure known as a reticulate body. This is essentially a "sleeping" phase for the organism. This phase is not affected by the common antibiotics currently used to kill the organism. Once the organism "wakes up" - and spreads, the antibiotics can work (this phase is the infectious lementary body). Much of the research that has gone into our current drug programs for the treatment of Chlamydia is very old. Folks in North Carolina, Louisiana, and other prominent universities are doing work to determine newer and better ways of treating Chlamydia. It may be in the future that treatment for shorter periods is as effective as the 45 day course that we currently use. - Judy St.Leger
A: The reason for this is that Chlamydia is an intracellular organism, thus it is more difficult for the antibiotic to reach the organism. As a result, one must treat for a prolonged period of time. - Dr. Michael Weiss
Q:I have a Lesser Sulphur Crested Cockatoo that has been treated for an E. Coli infection. Today we go back to the vet for retesting after having him off the medication for 7 days. My vet has been pushing me to treat him for psittacosis even though he has tested negative twice for it. I am really torn about treating him for this since he is testing negative. I have three other birds and am concerned about them also, especially the psittacosis. Yet my vet doesn't see the need to treat them unless they start displaying signs of illness. I am not particularly keen about treating my LSC with more drugs for something he doesn't have. Won't more drugs be even harder on his system if he doesn't have psittacosis? Thank you.
A: If the Psittacosis DNA test has been negative twice, the white blood cell count and protein electrophoresis are normal, I would not treat for Psittacosis. E.coli is very common in cockatoos and may actually be normal bacterial flora in this species. If the bird is not demonstrating clinical signs of illness and if laboratory tests don't support an infection, I don't think I would treat for anything. - Dr. Michael Weiss
A:Some birds do have both ovarian and testicular tissue. The incidence is very rare. Developmental conditions that may create this state are complex and could be researched in a library. Discussion of these is both complex and time consuming and not a function of this forum. References to help you get started: "A race of hermaphrodite-producing pigeons" Anatomical Record 1945;91:401-423\ Intersexuality in Birds. In: Armstrong CN, MArshall AJ. Intersexuality in Vertebrates Including Man. New York: Acedemic Press; 1964. DNA sexing is very, very accurate. Endoscopic examination may be more rewarding in this case, however, may not yield any answers. Good luck. - Dr. Michael Weiss
A: You have stumbled upon a big problem in avian care. There aren't good reference data bases lots of avian material. I have read extensively in the fields of avian medicine
and have been involved in avian diagnostics, medicine and surgery for over eight years. In that time, I have never had any experience with the subject of avian hermaphodism. Thoughts I have regarding your bird's behaviour:
A: I am not sure if anyone has published a study specifically looking at hermaphrodism in birds. This is an uncommon congenital problem in any species, and at best, information is usually brief. Nonetheless, I have performed necropsy exams on a number of individuals who did not turn out to be the sex one would have expected (eg. a female budgerigar with a blue cere) from their external appearance. We do know that while the hen posesses a large activity of estrogen and progesterone-like hormones, they do also have estosterone/androgenous substances present in their systems. Varying levels of these hormones could certainly account for a behavioral overlap between the sexes. - Don Factor, DVM
A:This is a very detailed and complicated question. I have copied several posts from vet-to-vet conversations which should help. Megabacteria probably is transmitted by a fecal oral route, however, aerosol route is possible. Hope the following bits help.
2) Her lab has subcultured megabacteria through 7 passages, then infected healthy budgies, who subsequently developed Megabacteriosis.
3) Though in the above laboratory setting, Megabacteria was likely the primary pathogen, due to high innoculum numbers, her belief is that it is often secondary to other, immune suppressive disease. ( This fits what we see in practice - lovebirds that are PBFD positive with concurrent megabact.)
4) The use of Amphotericin was empirical and antecdotal, and from one report. I was told the source, but can't remember the names. We discussed whether some other property of the Amphotericin (ph?) could account for the apparent improvement in this instance. No conclusions were reached.
5) In her study - NO antibiotic tested had any efficacy against the Megabacgeria (that's really scarey...) In general, you'll see reports (many from Europe), that cite Megabacteria as either a high morbidity, low mortality disease, or visa versa. So it may depend on strain, or concurrent infection(s). IME, clinically ill birds die eventually, though acidification of the gi will often decrease the number of megabacteria considerably, and relieve some of the gi clinical signs. Hope this helps.
MB from crop content may be seen if birds are 'vomiting' proventricular content up to the crop.
Treatment for this organism is recommended to be Amphoteracin B - although the rationale why is not clear other than documented clinical resolution in a number of cases. Amphoteracin acts by binding ergosterols of fungal cell membranes - and bacteria are not known to contain sterols - so the mechanism of this polyene macrolide against megabacterium is not known. Irregardless, dosage is recommended to be given by crop gavage - 100mg/kg BID.
Australians recommend oral gavage BID with 100 mg/kg. That dose simply scares me - but they seem to be happy with it. Most meds are being done in a water soluble form there, though, in the drinking water. Probably 'controls', but does not 'cure'.
Playing in a controlled situation here with Pacific Parrotlets, we had good resolution at 10 mg/kg BID x 10 days. At 4 months post treatment, all birds were clinically asymptomatic still, but we found two birds with a VERY small number of Mega being passed in their fresh feces by wet mount exam. As best we can tell, the possibility of re-introduction to these birds was effectively controlled, to I think we clinically improved the group to a subclinical status, but have not yet 'cured' them.
We have 'doubled' our dose - to 20 mg/kg gavage BID x 10 days, and will see again how we can do. - Dr. Michael Weiss
A: Megabacteria are large gram positive rod-shaped organisms that have some characteristics similar to fungi and yeasts, and have been found in the proventriculus and
in the droppings of an increasing number of avian species. They may be associated with proventricular or ventricular disease, but the infectiveness or pathogenicity of the organism is unclear. The signs of disease are progressive and in the later stages of infection include emaciation and total debility. The diagnosis is based on demonstration of the organism in tissue section or on wet mounts. Culturing is possible, but because the organism is anaerobic, it is difficult and often negative because the routine culture is aerobic. Treatment includes acidification of the drinking water with either HCl or citric acid, changing to a more easily digestible diet, and the use of antimicrobials. Some in vitro studies have shown the organism to be sensitive to many antibiotics, while other studies have shown it to be completely antibiotic resistant. Antifungal drugs Amphotericin B and Nystatin have also been reported to be effective in Budgies and European finches. The prognosis is guarded in any confirmed case because there is still so much we do not know. - Don Factor, DVM
A: It sounds like your bird is sick. The increased appetite is probably the bird's response to the increased energy demand the infection is having on the body. Some birds respond to infection by elevating their protein levels (beta globulins) before their white blood cells, thus, you may have a normal CBC. I'd recommend a serum EPH (electrophoresis) and testing the bird for psittacosis. The neck activity sounds like an attempt to regurgitate. A gram stain of the crop is also indicated. Amazons are highly susceptible to psittacosis and in a group housing environment like a boarding area, if the boarder dosen't require lab work for infectious diseases prior to boarding, the chance of a bird shedding the organism may be high. This would be my major concern. I wouldn't worry about worms. - Dr. Michael Weiss
A:Birds often become stressed when boarded (new surroundings, unfamiliar caregivers, etc). This can bring out chronic conditions that are otherwise masked. Was a psittacosis test performed on this bird? What about testing for Aspergillus? This guy could have picked up a parasite, but I don't suspect it. Rather, I would encourage the owners to consult further with their vet. Sleeping alot and being fluffed are signs of a sick bird - even if it is eating the house down. It's possible that the bird didn't sleep well when boarded, but I really suspect that the stress may have made him sick (or at least brought out an illness that he was coping with for some time.). - Judy St. Leger
A: My heartfelt sympathies go out to you. It sounds like you loved her very much and that you did all that you could to make sure your bird was healthy. It is sometimes very difficult to determine why a bird has died. Without a necropsy, it is impossible to know what happened. But don't feel awful about not having a necropsy done. There are times when it is better not to know than to have to focus on examination of the body. Guesses I might have are the possibility of another E coli infection setting up and causing a sudden, systemic illness. Another possibility is that your bird may have had problems with calcium (how was the egg shell?). Calcium is needed for the stress response. If it was too low, it could have contributed to problems. As I have said, this is only speculation. The best an owner can do for their bird is to take good care of it (including a proper diet, vet checks, caging, toys, etc), and to love it and spend time with it. I personally try to look at birds that have died to rule out the possibility of something contagious to the other birds, but it sounds like you tried to do all that you could . It takes time to get over the loss of a pet. - Judy St. Leger
A: There is a lot of interest in zinc toxicity lately. We are just starting to realize that some birds will ingest enough zinc from their environment to make them sick. Unfortunately, the only way to know for sure is to test metals in question for their zinc content. This can only be done at toxicology labs. One way to be safe from zinc is to look for toys without metal chains (kind of tough, huh?). Another is to look for or replace metal with known stainless steel metal bits or plastic. Watch out for galvanized metals. The process of galvanization is how the zinc sometimes gets into the picture in the first place. One thing to remember about zinc. If you think a bird may be sick from it, a blood test can be done by a veterinarian to determine the levels of zinc in the bird's blood. This is a treatable condition if detected early. For the man that thinks his bird was poisoned, he can have the toy evaluated to check zinc levels. Remember, while toys are meant to be chewed on, they aren't really meant to be eaten. Always take a critical view of the things your bird is chewing on! - Judy St. Leger
A: As you probably know, when birds fledge they grow their first set of feathers which allows them to fly and therefore leave the nest. They do, however, moult again at about 4-6 months of age and grow in their first set of what are considered "adult feathers", and from that point on, moult either once or twice a year. It is important to remember that moulting can take 10-12 weeks from start to finish. Proper diet is essential and should not be ignored. Supplements do not make up an appropriate diet, rather a balanced "base food" is what the bird should be eating supplemented up to 10-15% of the total intake with fresh fruits, vegetables, grains, etc. Supplemental vitamins are not indicated if the rest of the diet is what it should be. So far it sounds like your cockatiel is right on schedule. Good luck - Don Factor, DVM
A: Once feathers are cut, they don't "grow". The cut feathers are replaced once the bird moults. It sounds like your bird is just fine - and starting to moult. You should be able to see new feathers coming in where the old ones have come out. If your bird is on a good nutritious diet (pellets are preferred, lots of veggies and fruit plus seed is ok, but a distant second) there is little else that you need to do . If the diet isn't so good yet, start the change by mixing pellets 50/50 with the seed diet for about one week. Then gradually increase the percent of pellets, and decrease the percent of seed. Cockatiels can be tough, so watch carefully to make sure your bird is eating. A healthy bird on a good diet should be ready to be trained once the moult is over. Having a flighted bird in the house requires special care. Never let the bird outside. Watch out for dangers like windows, ceiling fans, ovens, and sinks or tubs with water in them. If you don't see new feathers coming in where the old ones have come out, consider having a vet take a look at your bird. There can be other reasons besides moulting that can cause feather loss. Good luck! - Judy St. Leger, DVM
A: Great question! We all need to be careful about the environment that we provide for our birds. Manzanita branches are safe (non-toxic) so you've already overcome
the first hurdle. Next, make sure they are free from pests, insects, fungus, and other plant material. I recommend scrubbing with a dish soap followed by carefully rinsing with water. Dry well. I prefer to dry things like this out in the sunshine, but rely on the weather to make this difficult! Look for small niches that could catch toes - you know your birds will want to make you insane by doing this. Don't use these sections so you can sleep better. Otherwise, sleep well knowing that you are providing your birds with good foot exercise by providing some variable sized perches as well as adding something new and fun to their life. - Judy St.Leger
A: To be on the safe side, cherry would is less than 100% safe. Just as cherry pits contain cyanide and other substances which can effect the heart, cherry wood can also. Dry wood will have less of the toxic substances than fresh wood, but the possibility of problems still exists. As with so many plants, I am sure that birds in captivity can (and do) do well on cherry jungle gyms. I would not however, like to own the one bird that decided to chew his way into a toxic condition. I bet your bird will get hours more enjoyment watching you create the next play gym! Sorry. - Judy St. Leger
Q: I have a B/G Macaw and would like to know if I can use grape vines to make my own bird toys?
A: I looked through everything I have on potentially poisonous plants and found nothing on grape vines. I would just make sure they have not been sprayed with insecticides. - Lonnie Kasmin, D.V.M.
Q: I want to know if the fragrance from jasmine plants are harmful to birds.
A: Jasmine fragrance has not been reported as harmful to the best of my knowledge. A bird could be sensitive to the chemicals from the plant, though, just like some people cannot tolerate the harmless rose oils. A test exposure should prove the plant safe. If it is in question, remove the bird from the jasmine area for a few days and see if things improve. - Judy St.Leger
A: I found nothing in any of my sources that would indicate that fragrance from a Jasmine plant are toxic. They may be irritating though. - Dr. Lonnie Kasmin, D.V.M.
Q: Do you have a list of toxic and nontoxic trees/plants for parrots? I have several parrots and would like to know exactly which trees I can and cannot provide for their perches. I would greatly appreciate any help you could provide.
A: Click here for a list, courtesy of Don Factor, D.V.M.
A: I have had excellent results using the polyoma vaccine. I work for a very large bird farm that was having huge problems with polyoma. We vaccinated over 2,000 birds so far with two complications. In two African Greys, a small lump formed at the injection site, which took about 1 month to go away. There were no other bad side effects. When polyoma was first a problem on this farm, some babies died, even though they had been vaccinated. These babies likely were infected with the virus before we could boost their immune systems with the vaccine. Vaccinated babies have since been to places that have had polyoma outbreaks. Birds from this farm have been protected as long as they have been properly vaccinated. Shipping vaccinated babies has solved the problem of worrying about possible polyoma exposure for this farm. - Judy St. Leger
A: I only administer the vaccine to very young birds in breeding situations. I don't see any sense in vaccination of birds after 8 months of age since they are not very susceptible to clinical infection. They can't get the disease from the vaccination. I also will not vaccinate a new baby pet if there are no other birds in the home or if the other birds are polyoma negative. - Dr. Michael Weiss
Q: Does polyoma cause dead in shell chicks?
A: Typically, polyoma kills fledgling age chicks, not chicks in the egg. - Don Factor, DVM
A: While most tissue glue products do not stop bleeding, there is a hemostatic Nexaband - but I find it better to stop bleeding with something non-toxic
(flour and direct pressure). - Don Factor, DVM
A: I have had no personal experience with the product you describe. However, I suspect from your description that it is a colloidal suspension. Many breeders use silver colloid to control persistant infections. A holistic vet would likely be better able to comment on this practice. As to the chronic eye infection, I would consider bacterial (including Chlamydia), viral and nutritional causes as possibilities. A long standing Mycoplasma or Chlamydia infection could be underlying things and causing secondary bacterial infections. You may wish to ask your vet if she/he thinks that doing a conjuctival scrape (it's really not as bad as it sounds) might be helpful. I assume you've got this guy on a pelleted diet to remove the possibility of a vitamin A problem.Please let us know what you find out about the silver. - Judy St. Leger
A: Guaranteed, it's not an "infection". Rather than use something unknown in a bird's eye, I suggest conjunctival scrapes for cytology and an exam by a specialist in veterinary opthalmology. There must be more going on than your vet expects (parasites, mycoplasma, chlamydia, uveitis, glaucoma, tumor, etc., etc.). My suggestion to you is to ask for a referral to an opthalmologist (veterinary). - Don Factor, DVM
A: Physical therapy is essential to break down inappropriate adhesions. The leg may need to be refractured and repaired well. A straight-leg cast is an old technique which does not work well on femoral fractures and is not the method of choice because of this type of complication. Suggest you go to someone else. - Don Factor, DVM
A: Once again, its hard to diagnose with that info. Pocket parrot? Parrotlet?, Budgie?; Injection?of what?Could be a lot of things. Clicking could indicate respiratory prob, Chlamydia? Any testing performed? They may want to check for hypothyroidism. Causes an enlargement of the thyroid gland which can produce a clicking sound... Lonnie Kasmin, DVM
A: The history you give on your little guy concerns me - but it's tough to evaluate birds over the monitor! Birds on poor diets (those seed eaters we all know) commonly get chronic or recurrent upper respiratory infections. These can be managed with antibiotics and improving the diet over time. The weakness you describe however, suggests that this is likely more than a simple upper respiratory infection. Your bird may have developed pneumonia or other systemic conditions which are very serious. As to whether or not he can make it..... too hard to answer over the internet. There are conditions that anyone can get from their birds which should always be considered. Chlamydia is an organism that can infect birds causing all sorts of signs. In people this infection is sometimes called psittacosis, or parrot fever. In people, the symptoms are a flu-like problem. Another condition which I associated particularly with Greycheeks is avian TB. This condition is usually not a problem for people but can be a human and avian infection. If money and time were no object, I would drive to the vets and ask for a CBC, chemistry screen, bacterial culture, and Chlamydia test, and maybe even x-rays. I would have this bird in the hospital until he responded to the medication. But I realize that is alot of tests and tests may not be able to save your bird. They would let you know where you stand. If you are OK with treating this without knowing all of the answers, doing every test is not required. He should be showing improvement soon after starting the medication. Keep him warm, and quiet. Make sure he's eating - if not consider hand feeding him. Having a sick bird is never easy. I hope my thoughts have helped to make it a little easier. -Judy St. Leger
EDITOR'S NOTE: This bird was "humanely"(?) put to sleep by the owner's vet. Upon gross histology, the vet noted that the bird had severe pneumonia and *probably* wouldn't have survived. No tests could have been performed in this short a period of time to determine the cause of the pneumonia, which may have been psittacosis or chlamydia, also known as parrot fever. If it was in fact psittacosis, the family still remains at risk for an unknown period of time with this organism possibly lurking throughout the house. Psittacosis can be fatal to humans and may manifest in several different ways with respiratory ailments being the most common. This is why it is so important to have tests run on a sick bird and to know how to deal with the death of a bird not only emotionally, but how it must be prepared for the vet to have it tested. The sad part of this story is that if tests had been run immediately and proper medication administered, the bird more than likely would have lived.
A: I haven't heard these reports. My recommendation would be to call the company and ask for THEIR best recommendation. Home quality control may be the same. A thriving bird is a sign of a healthy bird - even though sick birds can fool you, it sounds like you are doing a good job with nutrition. - Judy St. Leger
A: I have not heard anything bad about CeDe, though I have never used the product. - Lonnie Kasmin, DVM
A: I have not heard this, but it's certainly possible. Perhaps it's advisable to try another manufacturer's product. - Don Factor, DVM
A: Artificial preservatives are a controversial issue not only in bird food but also in pet food and regular food as well. Many preservatives are antioxidants which can actually be helpful when ingested. However, some preservatives can have harmful effects. Because this is a difficult and involved topic, I recommend contacting some of the food manufacturers for more info on preservatives. If you are trying to stay away from them, there is an organically grown feed with minimal preservatives currently available for psittacines. Remember, minimal preservatives means that food can deteriorate quickly. These products should be purchased in small quantities, kept frozen, and used quickly to preserve freshness and quality. -Judy St.Leger
Q: I have an African Grey who is a very good bird but has a problem. I have trouble getting him to eat fruits and vegtables. I have tried holding the various foods in front of him but he throws them to the side. Would it be better to use pellets? I am worried about my bird because I heard that they need the fruits. If you could advise me on what to do I'd appreciate it.
A: You didn't tell us what your bird is actually eating. Opinions vary on appropriate diets for birds. Most avian veterinarians will recommend a formulated pellet as the basis for a sound diet. This can be supplemented with a small amount (10%) veggies, fruit, beans, pasta and seed. Fruits themselves do not provide a lot of nutrition. They are a good source of several vitamins, provide water and a lot of sugar. Personally, I recommend a good quality pellet with some greens, veggies and very small amonts of fruit. This should provide a good diet for your grey including calcium which they have a high need for.
Q: Dear Drs. Could you tell me what the average weight of an adult female Umbrella cockatoo is? I have a friend that bought the bird as a mercy buy, this bird has gone from 480 grams last March to 410 grams in Oct. It is a very picky eater. Despite all of their efforts to entice it with all kinds of goodies, it basically will only eat a little seed, sweet corn, papaya, and kiwi. It appears to be a very normal active bird otherwise. Do you think that Giardia could be a possibility here and what other kinds of tests would you recommend? Thank you!
A: It sounds like this bird has a problem, and it's certainly possible that it's Giardia. It could also be anything else..any other parasite, kidney or liver disease,
chronic intestinal maldigestive/malabsorptive disorders, anemia... ...and the list goes on and on. I recommend that this owner seek the help of an avian vet to do the appropriate fecal and blood testing to get some idea of what the extent of this bird's problems are. An adult umbrella should weigh about 550-600gm.
A: Without seeing the bird, I cannot make a diagnosis. If the only problem is that the bird has lost sight in one eye then it can probably survive. Usually time will tell if it will fly again. I would just be patient. -Lonnie Kasman, DVM
A: It sounds like this bird did have an injury to its eye, but of course someone with some medical training would need to see it to see if there is any evidence of active infection or inflammation. That notwithstanding, if the globe is collapsed and nonvisual, the bird is a keeper. Release should not be attempted because this bird would almost certainly succumb to predators due to a blind spot and a lack of depth perception. It can survive captivity well and in a protected environment can live a long life barring any other
unassessed problems. I don't think you need a special license for a dove or pigeon. - Donald Factor, DVM
Q: Why don't birds fall off of the branches they're sleeping on?
A: People can't even fall asleep on the subway without slumping over onto the person next to them, but birds stay steady even in high winds. The secret of the birds' tightrope talent is in the toe tendons.
As a bird sits on a perch, its own body weight stretches the tendons in front of the knee and behind the ankle joint. This causes the toes to move forward and clasp around the perch. Other tendons under the toe bones have interlocking layers that stay secured to one another as long as the birds' weight is pressing against them, keeping the bird from tipping over.
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