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Diseases

SIGNS OF ILLNESS IN BIRDS


 

If you have any concerns Please contact your AVIAN VET

Inactivity
Eyes closed most of the time
Feathers fluffed all of the time
Droopy wings
Low, almost horizontal posture on perch
Talking and singing stops
Eating stops
Noisy breathing
Frequent sneezing
Discharge from the nares
Tail bobbing with each breath
Perching with neck extended and beak grasping wire of cage (this posture keeps passages straight to ease breathing)
Vomiting
Siled or pasted vent
Feathers lost and not replaced
Bleeding

Weight loss
Swelling
Changes in water consumption
Changes in routine and habits
Change in droppings
Change in activity level
Decrease in preening
Frequent flicking of head
Remaining on bottom of Cage
Self mutilation
Regression

SITUATIONS REQUIRING IMMEDIATE VET ATTENTION

If you have any concerns Please contact your AVIAN VET

Gasping for breath
Voice changes
Bleeding that you can't stop - heavy bleeding
Convulsions
Ingestion of TOXIC material
Ingestion of a sharp or foreign object
Constriction of legs, feet or toes that is causing swelling below the constriction
Moderate to sever dehydration

Shock - very sleepy - unresponsive - cool or cold extremities

Diseases


Chlamydia

Chlamydia psittaci - also referred to as Psittacosis, Parrot Fever or chlamydiosis. The word Psittacosis comes from the Greek word Psittakos, meaning parrot. Chlamydia are gram negative, spherical, (0.4-0.6 micron diameter), intracellular parasites that people sometimes referred to as "energy parasites" because they use ATP (a crucial energy containing metabolite) produced by the host cell, hence, the term "energy parasites.
Incubation periods in caged birds vary from days to weeks and longer. Most commonly this period is approximately 3 to 10 days. Latent infections are common and active disease may occur several years after exposure. The incubation period of this disease is however difficult to assess due to these chronically infected birds that develop persistent, asymptomatic infections.

In birds, C. psittaci may manifest itself as an upper respiratory infection with nasal, and or ocular discharge, diarrhea, or a combination of all three. In some cases, birds may be infected but show no signs. These cases are of concern because these birds may become carriers and shed the organism.
A major concern with C. psittaci is the zoonotic potential of the organism. A zoonotic disease is an infection which can be transmitted from animals to humans. C. psittaci is also one of the major causes of infectious abortion in sheep and cattle.
*C. psittaci is related to Chlamydia trachomatis, the most common human STD, and Chlamydia pneumonia, a cause of human pneumonia. Chlamydia pneumonia is also being investigated as possibly being associated with cardiovascular disease in humans.

Transmission


Transmission of this organism from one host to another is primarily through the air. The bacteria is shed from an infected bird in the nasal and or ocular secretions, fecal material, and feather dust. The organism remains remarkably stable outside the host body and dries as a dusty substance. This dust or aerosol contaminates the air that is then inhaled by another possible host. Susceptibility as well as the amount of contamination determine whether or not the new host becomes infected with the disease. Vertical transmission through the egg has been shown in domesticated ducks.

The disease has a greater chance of spreading in overcrowded conditions, stale air environments, nest-boxes, and brooders. Pet shops, bird marts, and quarantine stations are also high risk areas.

*Transmission of the Chlamydial organism from birds to humans has been confirmed in a number of cases. Although psittacosis infection in humans is rare it is potentially dangerous for persons who are sick, elderly, immunosuppressed (e.g., HIV patients) or pregnant. These people should consult their doctor for more information concerning Chlamydia psittaci.

Symptoms


In young birds clinical sings can include rough plumage, low body temperature, tremor, lethargy, conjunctivitis, dyspnea, emaciation, sinusitis, yellow to greenish droppings or grayish watery droppings may also be displayed. Adult birds may develop symptoms such as tremors, lethargy, ruffled feathers, progressive weight loss, greenish diarrhea, occasional conjunctivitis, and high levels of urates in droppings. Birds infected with Chlamydia may develop one or several of these symptoms as the disease progresses.
Clinical changes associated with a Chlamydia infection include WBC elevated 2-3 times, Hct decreased 25-40%, SGOT elevated at least 2-3 times the normal levels, LDH elevated by at least 20%, and AST elevated by at least 2-3 times the normal limit. Other, more slight changes can occur in blood hematology and chemistry.

*In humans: abrupt onset of fever, chills, headache, loss of appetite, shortness of breath, malaise, myalgia, and conjunctivitis can occur as a result of a Chlamydia infection.

Prevention


Preventing the organism from entering your facility is the best method of prevention. Test and quarantine all new birds before entering them in your aviary; avoid bird marts and bird fares where the disease can spread. Commonsense hygiene includes the removal of fecal material, and quality air circulation,

Treatment


Most treatments involve the use of tetracycline and its derivatives such as Vibramycin, Doxycycline, Oxytetracycline. The antibiotic can be given by intravenous or intramuscular injections. Antibiotics can also be given orally or mixed with palatable food. Treatment periods generally last about 45 days varying slightly depending on the treatment. *Calcium should be withheld because tetracycline binds to calcium. Citric acid in the bird's drinking water can increase the levels of antibiotics in the blood.

In humans tetracycline and its derivatives are generally an effective treatment for Chlamydia.

Diagnosis


Fecal analysis, blood analysis, immunoflourescent testing, as well as PCR and nested PCR testing are excellent tool to help determine a Chlamydial infection.

Sample


When testing individual birds, a whole blood sample is recommended in conjunction with a cloacal and/or throat swab when possible. If the sample tests positive the bird should be placed in quarantine and treatment should be begun immediately.

Postmortem swabs or samples of liver, spleen, or kidney tissue in a sterile container may also be submitted.

Environmental testing using swabs of aviaries, countertops, fans, air-filters, nest-boxes, etc. is extremely effective in determining the presence of Chlamydia psittaci DNA in the environment.

Handling


Prior to shipping samples should be stored at 4 C. (refrigerator). Samples must be shipped in a padded envelope or box. Samples may be sent by regular mail, but overnight is recommended.

Pacheco's


Pacheco's disease - This disease is caused by a number of closely related members of the herpesviridae. Herpesviruses are 120 to 220 nm in diameter and their genome has a double stranded DNA structure. Replication of the virus occurs in the nucleus of a cell. These viruses primarily infect lymphatic tissue (B or T cells), skin (epithelial cells) and nerve cells.
PDV was first recognized in Brazil where aviculturalists began seeing birds dying only a few days after becoming ill. The virus can start shedding in the feces and nasal discharge of an infected bird in as little as 3-7 days after infection. Considered highly contagious , PDV can spread rapidly through an aviary. Often the first sign that the disease is present is when a new bird is introduced to an aviary and healthy birds begin mysteriously dying. Pacheco's disease is often fatal and affects psittacines of all ages. New World psittacines seem to be more susceptible to the disease than Old World psittacines.

Transmission


Transmission of PDV is generally through infected feces and nasal discharge. PDV remains remarkably stable outside the host body as a dust or aerosol. This dust or aerosol contaminates the air that is then inhaled by another possible host. Contaminated surfaces, food, and drinking water may also contribute to the spread of the disease.
Birds can be asymptomatic carriers of Pacheco's virus. Some believe that any bird that has survived an outbreak of the disease should be considered as a possible carrier. PDV can be reactivated when the bird is under stress such as during breeding, loss of mate, or change and environmental changes. Once it is reactivated the virus is shed in large numbers in the feces of the infected bird.

Symptoms


Symptoms include lethargy, diarrhea, ruffled feathers, sinusitis, anorexia, conjunctivitis, and tremors in the neck, wing and legs.
Fecal material may become discolored with urates becoming green indicating possible liver damage has occurred. Birds generally die from massive liver necrosis characterized by an enlarged liver, spleen and kidneys. However, some birds die suddenly with no specific or observable symptoms.
Seemingly healthy birds often die quickly from Pacheco's disease. Generally stress associated with relocation, breeding, loss of mate or climate changes can activate the virus and result in activation of the disease and it's symptoms as well as shedding large numbers of the virus in the feces.

Prevention


Isolate all birds shedding PDV. Disinfect all contaminated surfaces with an oxidizer such as chlorine bleach (as Pacheco's virus is resistant to many disinfectants, alcohol does not work because it is not an oxidizer). It is also important to replace all air filters and clean vents and fan blades.
A killed virus vaccine is available and can be given in a series of two injections, 4 weeks apart (yearly booster shots are required). Some species, such as cockatoos and Eclectus parrots, have had vaccination reactions such as granulomas and paralysis. Additionally, the vaccine may not protect against all forms of PDV. Only birds with high risk of exposure, such as pet store birds, should be vaccinated.

Quarantine all new birds for 30-60 days and use PCR testing to determine whether or not birds are infected. Isolate birds who have been exposed to Pacheco's virus.

Treatment


Acyclovir is effective against some strains of Pacheco's but may cause kidney damage. Acyclovir works best when treatment is started before symptoms appear.

Diagnosis


PCR and sequence testing for specific PDV DNA. Histopathology.

Sample


In live birds please submit both a blood sample and a cloacal swab sample for each bird.
The Virus can be isolated from tissue samples of the liver, spleen or kidney submitted in a sterile container.
Environmental testing using swabs of aviaries, countertops, fans,
air-filters, nest-boxes, etc. is extremely effective when in determining the presence of Pacheco's virus DNA in the environment.

Handling


Prior to shipping samples should be stored at 4 C. (refrigerator). Samples must be shipped in a padded envelope or box. Samples may be sent by regular mail, but overnight is recommended.

Beak and Feather


Psittacine Beak and Feather Disease - The virus causing this disease is a member of the Circoviridae. The molecular structure of the genome of the virus is roughly a 2,000 base, circular, single stranded DNA. PBFD virus has a strong resemblance to Porcine Circovirus as well as to a number of plant viruses such as the Banana Bungy virus.

The disease is thought to be specific for psittacines and all psittacine species should be considered susceptible. Parrots known to be particularly affected by PBFD include, but are not limited to, Cockatoos, Macaws African Grey Parrots, Ringneck parakeets, Eclectus Parrots, Lovebirds.

Causes fatal infections, primarily in young birds. Older birds may overcome the disease with few lasting affects. Some believe that these surviving birds become carriers able to shed the disease at a later date. Others believe that a percentage of birds are able to eradicate the disease from their system leaving them with a natural immunity that can be passed on to their offspring.
The virus that causes PBFD can also affect the liver, brain, and immune system causing diminished resistance to infections. Consequently premature death usually occurs from these secondary bacterial, fungal, parasitic, or viral infections
.

Transmission


Transmission of the virus from one individual to another is primarily through direct contact, inhalation or ingestion of aerosols, crop-feeding, infected fecal material, and feather dust. The virus can also be transmitted via contaminated surfaces such as bird carriers, feeding formula, utensils, food dishes, clothing, and nesting materials. The viral particles, if not destroyed can remain viable in the environment for months, long after the infected bird is gone.

Symptoms


Symptoms include irreversible loss of feathers, shedding of developing feathers, development of abnormal feathers, new pinched feathers, and loss of powder down. Other possible symptoms include overgrown or abnormal beak, symmetrical lesions on the beak and occasionally nails.
Immunosuppression, rapid weight loss, and depression are also possible in later stages of the disease.
Secondary viral, fungal, bacterial or parasitic infections often occurs as a result of diminished immunity caused by a PBFD viral infection. Additional symptoms not mentioned above including elevated white cell counts are generally due to secondary infections and may not be directly related to PBFD virus infections.

Prevention


Strict isolation of all diseased birds to halt the the spread of the disease. DNA testing of all birds of susceptible species to rule out latent infection. DNA testing of aviary equipment and environment to test for possible contamination.

Treatment


No known treatment. Experimental vaccines are being developed.

Diagnosis


Skin biopsy, surgical biopsy of feather and shaft, or PCR testing of blood, swab, and feather samples.

PBFD should be considered in any bird suffering from abnormal feather loss or development. A biopsy of the abnormal feathers including the calimus (shaft) of the feather can be examined for signs of virus. However, since the PBFD virus does not affect all feathers simultaneously this method of evaluating a sample may have a high degree of error. Additionally, birds with PBFD can have normal feathers and the PCR test is the most effective method available for detecting the virus in birds before feather lesions develop.

Some birds infected with the virus, test positive, but never show clinical signs. Other birds which test positive may develop an immune response sufficient enough to fight off the infection and test negative after 30-90 days. Therefore, it is recommended to re-test all PBFD positive birds 60-90 days after the initial testing was completed. If the second sample remains positive, the bird should be considered permanently infected and can be expected to show clinical symptoms of the disease.

Sample


To test an individual bird a whole blood sample is recommended in conjunction with a cloacal swab or feathers (especially abnormal or suspicious-looking feathers) when possible. If the sample tests
positive the bird should be placed in quarantine and re-tested after 4-6 weeks. If the bird tests negative the second time a third test after 4-6 weeks is recommended.

Post-mortem samples include liver, spleen, kidney, feather samples in a sterile container; postmortem swabs may also be submitted.

Environmental testing using swabs of aviaries, countertops, fans, air-filters, nest-boxes, etc. is extremely effective in determining the presence of PBFD DNA in the environment.

*It is recommenced to submit both a whole blood and cloacal swab sample for analysis when possible.

Handling


Prior to shipping samples should be stored at 4 C. (refrigerator). Samples must be shipped in a padded envelope or box. Samples may be sent by regular mail, but overnight is recommended.

Polyomavirus

Polyomavirus - This virus, also referred to as Budgerigar Fledgling Disease is a member of the papovavirus family. Polyoma virus is a 40-50 nm diameter in size, containing a double-stranded DNA genome of approximately 5000 basepairs.

This pathogen is considered one of the most significant threats to cage birds around the world. This highly infectious disease effects most if not all parrot species. Polyoma seems to be most problematic among neonates (young birds) between the ages 14-56 days. Young birds often die, while adult birds can develop a certain level of immunity. Polyoma is believed to have an incubation period of approximately two weeks or less.

Transmission


The disease can spread from one bird to another via feather dust, feces, aerosols and parental feeding of chicks; direct contact or contact with infected environments (incubators, nest boxes)..

Birds that are infected but do not have obvious signs of infection are often responsible for spreading the virus to an aviary or bird store.

Carrier state maybe possible in adult birds.

Symptoms


Swollen abdomen, depression, loss of appetite, anorexia, weight loss, delayed crop emptying, regurgitation, diarrhea, dehydration, feather abnormalities hemorrhages under the skin, dyspnea, polyuria, ataxia, tremors, paralysis, acute death.

Some birds die without any clinical symptoms. Adult birds may die of secondary infection from bacterial, viral, fungal or parasitic pathogen.

Prevention


Isolate all birds shedding the disease. Disinfect all contaminated surfaces with an oxidizer such as chlorine bleach (Polyoma virus is resistant to many disinfectants).
*Alcohol does not work as it is not an oxidizer.


A vaccine is available, however this option may cost as much as $40-60 per bird: additionally booster shots are required each year and the effectiveness of the vaccine in younger birds is in question.

Quarantine all new birds and use nested primer PCR testing to determine whether or not birds are infected.

Treatment
No known treatment at this time.

Diagnosis


Nested primer PCR testing, and sequence analysis of PDV DNA; histopathology.

Sample


When testing individual birds, a whole blood sample is recommend in conjunction with a cloacal swab when possible. If the sample tests positive, then the bird should be placed in quarantine and re-tested in 4-6 weeks. If the bird tests negative the second time, then a third test is recommended.

Post mortem samples of liver, spleen, or kidney tissue in a sterile container, postmortem swabs may also be submitted.

Environmental testing using swabs of aviaries, countertops, fans,
air-filters, nest-boxes etc. is extremely effective in determining the presence of Polyoma DNA in the environment.


It is recommenced to submit both a whole blood and cloacal swab sample for analysis when possible.

Handling


Prior to shipping samples should be stored at 4 C. (refrigerator). Samples must be shipped in a padded envelope or box. Samples may be sent by regular mail, but overnight is recommended.

Limitations


Vaccination of birds using a killed virus or DNA vaccine prior to testing does not affect the accuracy of a PCR test.

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