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All About Common Parrot Diseases
There are some diseases that parrot owners should be aware of so that they can catch early signs of any problem in their birds. Pacheco Disease (PVD), Psittacine Beak and Feather Disease (PBFD), Feather Plucking, Avian Salmonella, Escherichia coli – E. coli, Avian Tuberculosis, Avian Chlamydia, Avian Polyomavirus and Proventrial Dilatation Disease (PDD) are among types of parrot disease which are common.
Good hygiene and healthy nutrition are the basic requirements for a healthy parrot, but being aware of the more common types of parrot disease will be useful in being a proactive pet owner. A quick visit to the vet is recommended as well.
Pacheco’s disease (PDV) is visible through symptoms such as lethargy, diarrhea, swollen feathers, sinusitis, anorexia, conjunctivitis, and tremors in the neck, wing and legs. The bird’s faecal material may become discolored with urates turning green suggesting possible liver damage.
Birds generally die from massive liver necrosis characterized by enlarged liver, spleen and kidneys. However, some birds die suddenly without specific or observable symptoms.
Infected birds can begin to shed the virus in the feces and nasal discharge as early as 3-7 days after infection. This viral disease is classified as highly contagious.
Pacheco’s disease is often fatal and affects parrots of all ages. New World parrots are seen as more susceptible to PDV than Old World psittacines. Asymptomatic birds can be carriers of the Pacheco virus. Birds that survived an outbreak of PDV may be potential carriers.
PDV appears to be reactivated when the parrot is under stress during times such as breeding, loss of a mate, or other environmental changes.
Avian Chlamydia, also known as Psittacosis, Parrot Fever or chlamydiosis is when parrots are infected by intracellular parasites. These are sometimes called energy parasites because they use ATP (a crucial energy containing metabolite) produced by the host cell.
Dull plumage, drop in body temperature, lethargy, conjunctivitis and yellow to greenish droppings or grayish watery droppings are among the symptoms. Sometimes there are no outward signs of infection.
This is an airborne bacterial disease. The bacteria can be shed by an infected bird through its body secretions, faecal material and feather dust. The organism can remain relatively stable outside the host body and can dry into a dusty substance and pollute the air.
Incubation periods in caged birds vary from days to months although most often this is 3 to 10 days. The incubation period is difficult to measure because chronically infected birds sometimes develop persistent and asymptomatic infections.
Parrots in overcrowded environments are particularly susceptible to the disease. A significant detail about Avian Chlamydia is that it is a zoonotic disease that can be transmitted from animals to humans.
Psittacine Beak and Feather Disease (PBFD) is the disease in which we see loss of feathers, development of abnormal feathers, new pinched feathers, shedding of developing feathers and loss of powder down.
An overgrown or abnormal beak, symmetrical lesions on the beak and sometimes nails are other likely signs. Immunosuppression, dramatic weight loss and depression are also seen as the disease progresses.
PBFD is caused by a virus that also sometimes affects the liver, brain and immune system. Secondary infections arising from this sometimes lead to complications and death.
Transmission is by direct contact and the infected environment must be thoroughly cleaned because the virus particles can persist in the environment even after the infected bird is removed.
PBFD is thought to be specific to psittacines and some species that are particularly vulnerable to it are Cockatoos, Macaws, African Gray Parrots, Ring-necked Parakeets, Eclectus Parrots and Lovebirds.
PBFD can be fatal to young birds and even adult birds that survive can become carriers. Others feel that these survivors develop immunity that can be genetically passed on to their offspring.
Feather plucking can be a traumatic problem for the parrot and the pet owner because it seems to indicate deeper problems. The broad reasons for feather feathering are improper diet or inadequate nutrition, emotional stress and bacterial or fungal infection.
Owners should ensure that the bird is not kept in too small a cage and if the bird is molting, special nutritional attention should be given. Also keep an eye open for fleas, lice or ticks. Although these are rare, they can also be the cause of skin irritation.
A well-balanced diet, a mentally stimulating environment, adequate physical space and good hygiene are among the things that can help with this problem.
Escherichia coli (E. coli) manifests itself as puffy feathers, diarrhea, lethargy and tremors. Baby birds, with less developed immune systems, are more susceptible to disease.
Chronic infections in adult birds can lead to abscesses, failure to hatch eggs and cause changes in feeding habits. The extent to which a bird is affected will depend on the age and immune system of the bird and the potency of the bacteria.
Clean food bowls and water and antibiotics can help most birds recover fully from the common parrot disease infection.
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