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 Signs of Illness for Birds

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PostSubject: Signs of Illness for Birds   Sat Mar 14, 2009 2:46 pm

SIGNS OF ILLNESS
I have often seen it written that sick birds (unlike mammals) are adept at hiding the fact that they are ill. While this is occasionally true, it is more usually the case that those who care for birds miss the first signs which should alert them. Most of us need to improve our detective work, so that we can uncover symptoms of illness at a very early stage. Constant vigilance is necessary. All birds should be observed carefully twice daily, early morning and after noon or evening, because the progression of some illnesses is extremely rapid. Also, any accident such as injuries to toes and nails, birds trapped by rings, etc., can be dealt with quickly. A bird that has been trapped overnight is likely to die from shock, whereas one which is quickly released will suffer little ill effect. When checking your birds, there are three basic steps to take. First, carefully observe the bird itself. Second, look at its droppings, and third, check the food. An efficient observer can detect in a split second if there is something wrong with a bird with which he or she is familiar. Its eyes give an instant "read-out". If they are dull or slightly sunken, not shiny and bold, the bird is sick. Food adhering to the beak is another bad sign; healthy birds, unless very young, always clean their beaks. If you see a bird clinging to the wire mesh of its aviary, holding on by its beak, look again. This is usually an indication that it is weak. A healthy bird almost never clings to the wire with its beak for any length of time.

Signs of Illness
The posture--huddled, tail up or down; position of wings, drooped or elevated; position of feet and toes; the attitude of the head, thrown back or drooping forward; eyes and beak, open or closed. The respiratory rate and nature of breathing.

The degree of steadiness on the perch, teetering or slipping of the feet, rocking or loss of balance due to bodily weakness or affections of the nervous system. The state and colour of the plumage, ruffled or tattered, molting or faded. The appearance of the skin where it is visible. Any variation in the contour of the body, such as swellings or other deformities.

Signs of asymmetry, one wing drooped, a hanging leg, a patch of matted feathers suggestive of local injury.

A closer look is then desirable. This may reveal less obvious abnormalities. The bird can now be disturbed from its perch and encouraged to move in order to see if there is any unsteadiness of the legs, lameness, impaired or weakened flight, partial paralysis or in-coordination. In this way it is also possible to detect blindness (as shown by bumping into objects), limb damage, brain and spinal cord dysfunction, gout, arthritis and numerous other signs, as well as detecting respiratory distress and the degree of listlessness and ill health. Birds show signs of pain and discomfort to a much lesser extent than mammals. In this fact lies much of the difficulty in making a diagnosis. Early signs of illness are often very slight and the majority of diseased birds, other than those with external injuries, may be seriously ill before the owner has become aware of the situation. By then, appetite or digestion may be badly impaired and signs of illness follow rapidly upon the self-imposed starvation. The smaller the bird, the more severe the diseased condition can become before it is recognized.

Observations are also made of the bird's environment; the food and fluid intake, the output of waste material. A search of the cage may reveal clusters of feathers or smears of blood and indicate that some predator has attacked the bird. Scattered food or water containers may suggest the presence of an unwanted visitor and account for head or other self-inflicted wounds or sudden death. Patches of nibbled paint may account for illness due to poisoning, especially if the paint contained lead. Evidence of vomit may be an indication of regurgitation in the courtship display of budgerigars or it may be due to ingestion of moldy food or the result of some other digestive upset. The appearance of the droppings should be noted. They may be small and hard or copious and soft, contain watery or creamy white (urinary) fraction, or watery or semi-solid mucoid, grey, green or yellow (intestinal) fraction.

Alternatively, it may have a foot injury. Two very obvious signs of illness, with which everyone is familiar, are ruffled plumage, and a bird resting with its head tucked into the feathers of its back but on two feet instead of one. Sometimes very young birds rest on two feet, but a healthy adult seldom does so. By the time it has taken on this appearance, it is usually very sick and needs immediate warmth and treatment if it is to survive. Other more subtle warning signs may go undetected. For example, if one enters an aviary or passes close by it, and a bird takes longer than usual to fly away (assuming that it is not tame), look again. Also look with suspicion on any bird which has been attacked by others in the same aviary. Either it is unable to fly due to feather damage (in which case is should be housed on its own) or it is sick. A healthy bird is seldom the subject of an attack.

Unusual be haviour:
A good bird keeper knows his charges so well that he will be alerted by any aspect of be haviour that differs from the normal. Some birds, especially tame ones, seem to try to communicate the fact that they are ill. Parrots, such as Amazons, Lories and Macaws, will sometimes resort to juvenile begging behavior, moving the head slowly up and down and making food soliciting calls. Never ignore such obvious cries for help. The second method of detecting illness is to look at the faeces. It is impossible to say what is normal for a species, as this depends on how it is fed. The observant keeper will know what the faeces should look like in a particular bird--usually light or dark green with almost equal quantities of white (urine). Budgie dropping are usually black and white. Sometimes a change in the appearance of the faeces can be seen before the bird itself shows any indication of ill health. Fresh blood in the faeces, or dark brownish-black or reddish-black droppings, indicating that blood has been digested, could be a symptom of enteritis or septicaemia or of poisoning. The advice of a veterinarian should be sought immediately, as antibiotic treatment, usually by injection as this acts more rapidly, is necessary.

On no account try to treat a sick bird yourself with some antibiotic which you may have at hand. This may be useless or worse than useless, or prevent a veterinarian or biologist from achieving the correct result when a culture is made from the faeces. An antibiogram is made from the culture which indicates the correct antibiotic to use. In cases of urgency, a veterinarian will give a broad-spectrum antibiotic until the result of the antibiogram is known. If you see faeces which are entirely white and very liquid. Note that there are two basic reasons. One is that the bird has been temporarily stressed. I have often noticed such faeces in birds which have, for example have just been caught up. If nothing has stressed them, however, birds with liquid whitish faeces need treatment. They are losing a lot of urine and will become dehydrated. They need to be given fluid-electrolytes (such as Amynin made by Rhone Merieux, which also contains amino acids and Vitamin B complex) subcutaneously. So that this is not-absorbed rapidly, it is injected beneath the skin under the neck or a little below this area.

This should be carried out by a veterinarian or someone who is skilled at this. What else can you detect by looking at the faeces? They will often be the first indication that there is some thing wrong with the bird's digestive system. If faeces contain undigested seed or other food, this is the case. Catch the bird and examine it. If it is very thin, the problem is a chronic one, that is, is not of recent origin. Although the bird may appear to be eating well, the food is not being digested. The advice of a veterinarian must be sought and the bird should be offered foods which are easy to digest. However, they must also be foods which the bird will accept or it may simply stop eating. It may even be necessary to force-feed, i.e. placing a mixture of, for example, baby cereal and a high protein food for invalids, in the bird's crop using a syringe. Do not attempt to do this without previous experience or instruction from a vet or other qualified person.

Virus condition:
Undigested food in the faeces can be a symptom of proventriculus dilatation, a serious condition caused by a virus. Antibiotics will not cure it but they can prevent secondary bacterial infections. Partly digested food on the aviary floor could have been vomited. By carefully examining this, it is usually possible to detect from where it originates. In either case, the bird needs immediate attention. So when you look on the aviary floor, you should be looking for three things - the condition of the faeces and for the possible presence of vomit, or for blood which indicates an injury. The latter is usually from an injury to a toenail or from a damaged blood feather (one which is still growing). The last item to check is the food. If you do not feed the birds yourself, check that the food dish or dishes are present, in the correct position and contain the right food. If a food dish is, for some reason, placed on the floor instead of in an elevated position, some birds would starve to death rather than descend to floor level. During the second check of the day, note how much food has been eaten. The food dish may need replenishing or less food than normal may have gone. In abnormal weather conditions many birds will eat less than usual. Otherwise, reduced food consumption can be an indication of sickness. Good detective work is just the first stage in reducing losses due to illness. It has to be followed up by good treatment. This is where you must enlist the help of a veterinarian -- preferably an avian specialist.

Some other signs to look for:
Prolonged loss of feathers, bald spots, rough looking plumage ----> mites, nutritional deficiency (vitamins & minerals) or metabolic or hormonal disturbances.
Plucking of feathers ----> boredom, allergy, nutritional deficiency.
Whitish grey, crusty layer on upper bill, cere, around eyes, & legs ----> scaly face or Mycosis of the beak.
Squeaking or rattling noise when breathing, difficulty getting air, whipping tail, regurgitating food, tossing of the head ----> Infection of respiratory system with bacteria, viruses, or fungi (colds) crop inflammation, pneumonia, problem with thyroid gland or egg binding.
Diarrhoea, droppings mushy and/or watery, strongly discolored or mixed with blood ----> colds, nutritional deficiency, poisoning from spoiled food, nephritis (kidney disease) liver damage, tumours or infections.
Visible straining when passing stool, droppings hard, pale yellow or grey mixed with blood ----> constipation.
Straining in vain, shortness of breath, very large droppings, (almost liquid, often with blood) exhaustion ----> egg binding.
Yellowish to brownish scales under wings, base of tail, and inside of thighs, general ailing state and increased thirst ----> Eczema, caused by fungi or other pathogens, possible reaction to chemically treated food or environmental factors.

Here are a few basic things to look for in determining if your bird is healthy or not.
Posture (huddled), tail up or down, position of wings (drooped or elevated) position of feet & toes, head thrown back or drooping forward, eyes & beak (open or closed), respiratory rate and nature of breathing, degree of steadiness on perch (teetering or slipping of the feet, rocking or loss of balance due to bodily weakness or affections of the nervous system.
State and color of plumage (ruffled or tattered, moulting or faded), appearance of skin where visible, any variations in the contour of the body such as swellings or other deformities.
Signs of asymmetry, one wing drooped, a hanging leg, a patch of matted feathers suggestive of local injury.


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PostSubject: Salmonella   Sat Mar 14, 2009 2:51 pm

SOME CAUSES OF SALMONELLA:
If the birds do have salmonella. It is a very serious disease for birds and even those that live should never be bred again. Some causes of salmonella are mixed aviaries, too crowded an aviary, contaminated food, contact with outdoor birds or rodents. Some ways that new born babies can become affected.

1. Contamination of food at source, proprietary egg food is a potential danger.
2. Contamination of food or water by rodents or wild birds in the aviary or store.
3. Contact with a newly-acquired infected bird.
Less commonly, infection is spread at shows or as the result of handling by visitors who have been in contact with the bacteria. Spread throughout an establishment is aided by overcrowding, allowing food to become stale, scattering seed and food where it can attract vermin, and other unhygienic practices. Flies and some parasites are also capable of transmitting the disease, while some strains of salmonella are able to live for almost four months in stagnant water in temperate climates.

CLINICAL SIGNS:
In an outbreak, the initial picture may depend on the source of infection and the age groups first affected. The severity may also depend to some degree on the type of Salmonella responsible. The severest and most acute outbreaks are usually seen in young chicks, for example, when infected egg food is fed to parents and later to offspring. The parents at this stage may show little evidence of disease. However, low hatchability rates, dead-in-shell or weak newly-hatched chicks, and chicks "fading" during the first few days of life are strongly suggestive of the infection. The blood, other tissues and droppings of such chicks as well as the parents excreta, are rich sources of the organisms. As little as 10 per cent of all eggs incubated may hatch, and all of these chicks may die before leaving the nest. Signs range from sudden death to gradual onset of depression over one to three days, accompanied by huddling of the birds, fluffed up feathers, unsteadiness, shivering, loss of appetite, markedly increased or absence of thirst, rapid loss of weight, accelerated respiration, and watery yellow, green, or occasionally blood-tinged droppings. The vent feathers become matted with excreta, the eyes begin to close, and immediately before death some birds show apparent blindness, inco-0rdination, staggering, tremors, or other nervous signs including convulsions.

DIAGNOSIS:
Diagnosis cannot be made on clinical signs alone. Confirmation depends on isolating the bacteria from the heart blood or lesions of dead birds and the droppings of live, recovered carriers, but this can only be done in a properly equipped laboratory. This is called a NECROPSY or a form of autopsy for birds. In an establishment where occasional losses have been experienced in several age groups, examination of droppings from birds which have been in close contact with the dead birds should be made because salmonellosis can be well established before it is even suspected. When an infection is well distributed throughout the stock and established, but not causing heavy losses, it is said to be endemic or enzootic. When an infection suddenly wreaks havoc in an aviary, causing a high incidence of clinical disease and deaths, it is referred to as an epidemic or epizootic. Blood testing methods for antibodies is a useful means of identifying carrier birds harbouring a particular strain of organism.

TREATMENT AND PREVENTlON:
It must be stressed that, short of destroying all infected birds, carriers and those in contact, it is unlikely that an establishment can be entirely cleared of the infection. If rodents or wild birds can gain access, they will soon be acting as a reservoir of the organism. Because of the individual financial, and sentimental value of cage birds, treatment is more generally attempted than in the case of poultry. This reduces mortality and greatly slows the onset of new cases of clinical illness but masks infected birds by turning them into symptomless carriers. Treatment must be prolonged, and repeated at intervals in all valuable birds. Breeding should also be discontinued for the current year. Some would say that once birds are infected they should never be used for breeding again. Minor or major fresh outbreaks are to be expected in following seasons, especially if sudden change of food occurs, also during a cold spell or breeding, or indeed during any conditions of stress. The greatest success in treatment has occurred with the drugs furazolidone and spectinomycin. Sulphonamides, particularly sulphadimidine and sulphadiazine are also quite effective in reducing losses and checking clinical signs. The tetracyclines, chloramphenicol and neomycin generally appear to be less effective, although some strains respond reasonably well. It is advisable therefore to combine or alternate two or more of these drugs. Where drug-sensitivity tests are available, which indicate the particular efficiency of either one or more drugs, these drugs should of course be used. No commercial vaccines and sea are available, but some success has been reported with vaccines made from Salmonella isolated from birds on the affected premises. These "auto-genous vaccines" are said by their advocates to be helpful in controlling outbreaks where the infection is established. The most important factors for prevention are cleanliness, care in the choice and origin of foodstuffs, vermin-proof premises, isolation of new stock and all stock after visits to shows.


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PostSubject: Handfeeding Sick Birds   Sat Mar 14, 2009 2:55 pm

Feeding By Hand when your bird is Sick:

If the bird will not eat by himself, we will have to feed him by hand (teaspoon, eyedropper, etc.). Boil 1/4 litre (1/2 pint) of milk and dissolve a few spoons of honey into it while it is still warm. Note: Some birds do not digest milk very well so water should be used in its place.) Beat the yolk of an egg, add a small pinch of salt and add this to the milk or water too. We may also add 100 milligrams of an antibiotic. Ask your druggist for Terramycin or Aureomycin or Tetracycline. This concoction can be stored in the refrigerator, but must be warmed up to 26 degrees C. (about 80 F.) before it is fed to our little patient. It can be fed in drops. If you wrap the sick bird in a kitchen towel, there will not be any danger to our eyes and hands nor will he injure or exhaust himself with sudden and unnecessary movements.

Place the tip of the dropper (or teaspoon) into the corner of the bird's beak and allow two or three drops of the mixture to fall into his mouth. Be sure not to squirt the food in with the dropper, because it will be a simple matter to get food into the lungs this way and, needless to say, that would not be advisable. After every two or three drops we should wait until the baby has swallowed his food. Large parakeet varieties such as the Alexandrine parakeet can be given 15 drops every four hours, much less (8-10 drops) for the smaller species. If your bird also has diarrhoea, give him some pulverised charcoal with his food, or milk with oven-dried bread. Your dealer no doubt has more drugs that should be of help. Be sure, though, not to give these drugs simultaneously with the above formula. We know either from experience or from what we have already read so far that parakeets are not often found quenching their thirst at the water dish, in fact, they can do without water for a surprisingly long time.

This is why we are presented with a problem when we need to mix drugs with water. The best way to force a bird to drink when he is sick is to place him in a separate isolated "hospital cage" in an area where we can control the heat. If we place a lamp next to the cage, which we have partially covered with thick towels, we can easily develop a temperature of 30-35 degrees C or (86 to 92 degrees F.). The warmth will definitely motivate your bird to drink, and warmth itself is also an excellent medical treatment. We should maintain this temperature for at least 48 hours and longer if the bird does not show signs of recovering. Medicines and vitamins should be administered only in small quantities, perhaps on top of a banana or another favourite food, and of course we must be careful to precisely follow the directions for the medication.

TETRACYCLINE/AUREOMYCIN: This is a antibiotic effective against almost all Gram negative organisms including Mycoplasma and Psittacosis--lymphogranuloma group of organisms. It is useful in septicaemias, respiratory, alimentary, urinary and wound infections. Prolonged use should be avoided otherwise fungal infections may develop. Use maximum 5 days treatment then 3 days without before starting second course.

TERRAMYCIN: Very affective eye ointment against many pus forming organisms including gram negative bacteria such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa. It is also useful for sinusitis. If used for the eye or a wound, use 2 to 4 times daily after a salt water bathing.


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PostSubject: Egg Binding & Bird dont stop laying eggs   Sat Mar 14, 2009 3:40 pm

EGG BINDING or EGG BOUND
Egg binding or egg bound is the name given to difficulty in laying eggs and especially to the inability of a bird to press the egg out of the oviduct and the vent. The possibility of egg binding has to be considered if a female acts apathetic, produces droppings that are exceptionally large and too runny--often mixed with blood---whips her tail, and strains painfully. The bird seems nervous, keeps moving from perch to perch, and seeks relief by stretching the body and holding it almost horizontally. The careful observer will notice a slight roundness of the underbelly. If the egg is not passed within an hour when a female is in this state, she will quickly lose strength, look very ill, and squat on the cage bottom, barely able to keep her balance, plumage raised, eyes closed, emitting faint cries of pain. Without immediate help she will die.

Possible causes: Females that are too young may develop egg binding when they lay their first eggs, but even adults at the prime breeding age of one to two years can suffer from binding if the oviduct is not elastic enough or if the egg is too large. An egg with too rough or too soft a shell or with no shell at all can also cause egg binding. So can poor nutrition, especially vitamin and calcium deficiencies, housing in rooms that are too dark, damp, or cool, or too many broods in succession without adequate rest periods in between.

Measures to take: If the condition has not deteriorated to its most painful state you can try to provide relief with damp heat. Also drip a little warmed castor oil or salad oil on the vent with an eye dropper every ten minutes. That is about all you can do. If the egg is not produced within two hours take the bird to the veterinarian. A vet who has experience with birds may try to assist the female's efforts with massage. If that fails there is a way to enlarge the oviduct without recourse to surgery, or an operation may be necessary. These last two measures can save the parakeet only if the exhaustion that goes along with egg binding is not too great. Important: Female parakeets kept singly or living with human-imprinted partners--in other words, birds that do not actually mate--sometimes lay eggs. It is best to give such a bird a nesting box for her eggs and let her sit for a time. If the eggs, which are infertile, are removed, the female may continue laying and get exhausted from this. This, too, can cause egg binding or an overall deterioration of health and serious illness. Many a parakeet female living singly or in a platonic relationship with her partner lays eggs every six to eight weeks even if she is not allowed to sit on them.

MY BIRD WILL NOT STOP LAYING EGGS
Excessive or chronic egg laying is an all-too common problem in domesticated female psittacines. Of all the domestic psittacines, this condition is most often seen in cockatiels, budgerigars and love birds. Chronic egg laying is also common in hand-raised birds that have imprinted onto their human foster parents. In the wild, most birds and other wild life tend to come into their normal breeding cycle based upon the amount of daylight exposure and the availability of food. As the seasons change and spring approaches, the amount of natural light increases. This increase in sunlight causes hormonal changes within the bodies of birds and thus influences breeding and egg laying. Chicken farmers and people in the poultry industry have known about the influence of light exposure on egg production for many years. To increase egg production, poultry farmers will often increase light exposure with artificial lighting. This will also maintain an adequate plane of nutrition to prevent problems, such as egg binding. In captivity, pet psittacine birds are usually housed indoors, where they are exposed to both artificial and natural light. If the amount of light exposure is greater than 10 hours a day over a period of a few weeks, the hen's natural hormonal activity for breeding will be triggered. A female bird doesn't necessarily need a mate to lay eggs. Other stimuli that may induce sexual behavior and egg laying include cage items or objects, such as a toy bird, mirror or nest box. The bird's owner may also sexually stimulate the bird by petting or stroking the bird's back, which mimics or is interpreted by the bird as copulation. Naturally, after having exposure to the stimuli, the bird now begins to lay eggs. Her goal is to lay a clutch of eggs, incubate them, and raise the young she produced.

The problem that often occurs next is that the bird's owner removes the eggs as they are laid. This only encourages the bird to lay more eggs, because instinctively the bird is trying to produce the next generation of birds. This phenomenon is often termed double clutching, and some breeders do this to produce and raise more birds for the pet market. As the bird continues to lay more eggs, and the eggs are still being removed by the owner, the bird's health is jeopardized. Excessive egg laying places high demands on the bird's body. If the hen is on an inadequate diet with little or no calcium, the bird will eventually become hypocalcemic. Hypocalcemia will then lead to soft-shelled eggs, egg binding and soft, brittle bones. Egg binding can result from excessive egg laying and low dietary calcium intake, along with vitamin and dietary imbalances. If the hen is allowed to continue to lay eggs and is on a diet deficient in calcium, vitamins and adequate protein, the bird's body will have an increased demand for calcium for proper egg-shell formation. Since the bird has little to no calcium in her diet, the only place the body can obtain calcium is from the long bones of the body.

Other body structures are also affected by the lack of calcium. Calcium is necessary for normal muscle contraction; without it, the hen may exhibit seizures and sometimes partial paralysis. Many old-time canary breeders familiar with this condition often use the term "cage paralysis," to describe this type of calcium deficiency. The egg-bound hen is often found huddled in a corner on the cage bottom. She'll often have a larger-than-normal thin or soft-shelled egg in the distal portion of her reproductive tract. The lack of calcium lead to the development of the soft-shelled egg and the inability to properly contract and expel the egg. The bird is now in a lifethreatening situation. Fortunately, many birds can be saved with the help of a well-qualified avian veterinarian. Many of these birds will require radiographs or x-rays to help the veterinarian make a diagnosis of egg binding. Hospitalization, along with injections of oxytocin, calcium and vitamin D, are all necessary to help expel the egg and correct the calcium imbalance. In some instances where medical treatment is ineffective, the egg may require removal through surgical or manual manipulation. Once the bird has been stabilized and the egg expelled, dietary and nutritional changes are made to prevent egg binding from reoccurring. So now that we know that excessive egg laying can lead to egg binding, how do we control excessive egg laying so egg binding won't occur? The first thing is to decrease the amount of light to which the bird is exposed. By decreasing the amount of light exposure, we may be able to trick the bird's internal hormonal mechanism into believing that breeding season is ending. This should be done gradually over the course of a few weeks.

The next step is to leave the eggs in the cage. By leaving the eggs alone, we are giving the hen a chance to lay a clutch of eggs. After the clutch number has been reached, the hen will naturally stop laying eggs. Make sure the hen has adequate nutritional intake with enough calcium, vitamin D3 and protein. Sources of calcium include cuttlebones, calcium/mineral blocks and calcium powder. Vitamin D3 is in most vitamin supplements made for pet birds. Vitamin D3 can also be made by the bird's body if you expose your bird to unfiltered sunlight or UV lighting. Vitamin D3 can also be added to the diet like the calcium powder. Protein sources include eggs, legumes, tofu, meats and formulated diets made for breeding birds. Once the hen has stopped laying eggs and is incubating them, cut back on the protein, but maintain adequate calcium and vitamin supplementation. Leave the eggs in the cage for the normal length of time required for the eggs to hatch. Afterward, the eggs can be discarded. Hopefully by now the hen will no longer want to continue laying eggs. If egg laying still continues, medical treatment with hormonal drug therapy may be necessary. There are various hormonal drug therapy preparations available. They include drugs such as medroxy progesterone (Depo-provera), leuprolide acetate and human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG). Hormonal drug therapy works by suppressing ovarian development, which will consequently delay egg laying.
If medical therapy is unsuccessful, surgical treatment can be attempted as a last resort to stop chronic egg laying.
Hormonal drug therapy is administered by injection, which may need to be repeated to successfully suppress egg laying. Like any drug therapy, side effects may be a possible problem, and repeated treatment may not be in the best interest of the hen. If medical therapy is unsuccessful, surgical treatment can be attempted as a last resort to stop chronic egg laying. The surgical procedure performed is a salpingohysterectomy. This procedure involves the removal of the "uterus" and the oviduct, but not the ovary. The ovary doesn't need to be removed because it will no longer be secondarily stimulated by a hormonal feedback produced by the "uterus" to release ova or eggs.


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PostSubject: Loss of feather   Sat Mar 14, 2009 3:41 pm

EGG BINDING & MY BIRD WILL NOT STOP LAYING EGGS
EGG BINDING or EGG BOUND
Egg binding or egg bound is the name given to difficulty in laying eggs and especially to the inability of a bird to press the egg out of the oviduct and the vent. The possibility of egg binding has to be considered if a female acts apathetic, produces droppings that are exceptionally large and too runny--often mixed with blood---whips her tail, and strains painfully. The bird seems nervous, keeps moving from perch to perch, and seeks relief by stretching the body and holding it almost horizontally. The careful observer will notice a slight roundness of the underbelly. If the egg is not passed within an hour when a female is in this state, she will quickly lose strength, look very ill, and squat on the cage bottom, barely able to keep her balance, plumage raised, eyes closed, emitting faint cries of pain. Without immediate help she will die.

Possible causes: Females that are too young may develop egg binding when they lay their first eggs, but even adults at the prime breeding age of one to two years can suffer from binding if the oviduct is not elastic enough or if the egg is too large. An egg with too rough or too soft a shell or with no shell at all can also cause egg binding. So can poor nutrition, especially vitamin and calcium deficiencies, housing in rooms that are too dark, damp, or cool, or too many broods in succession without adequate rest periods in between.

Measures to take: If the condition has not deteriorated to its most painful state you can try to provide relief with damp heat. Also drip a little warmed castor oil or salad oil on the vent with an eye dropper every ten minutes. That is about all you can do. If the egg is not produced within two hours take the bird to the veterinarian. A vet who has experience with birds may try to assist the female's efforts with massage. If that fails there is a way to enlarge the oviduct without recourse to surgery, or an operation may be necessary. These last two measures can save the parakeet only if the exhaustion that goes along with egg binding is not too great. Important: Female parakeets kept singly or living with human-imprinted partners--in other words, birds that do not actually mate--sometimes lay eggs. It is best to give such a bird a nesting box for her eggs and let her sit for a time. If the eggs, which are infertile, are removed, the female may continue laying and get exhausted from this. This, too, can cause egg binding or an overall deterioration of health and serious illness. Many a parakeet female living singly or in a platonic relationship with her partner lays eggs every six to eight weeks even if she is not allowed to sit on them.

MY BIRD WILL NOT STOP LAYING EGGS
Excessive or chronic egg laying is an all-too common problem in domesticated female psittacines. Of all the domestic psittacines, this condition is most often seen in cockatiels, budgerigars and love birds. Chronic egg laying is also common in hand-raised birds that have imprinted onto their human foster parents. In the wild, most birds and other wild life tend to come into their normal breeding cycle based upon the amount of daylight exposure and the availability of food. As the seasons change and spring approaches, the amount of natural light increases. This increase in sunlight causes hormonal changes within the bodies of birds and thus influences breeding and egg laying. Chicken farmers and people in the poultry industry have known about the influence of light exposure on egg production for many years. To increase egg production, poultry farmers will often increase light exposure with artificial lighting. This will also maintain an adequate plane of nutrition to prevent problems, such as egg binding. In captivity, pet psittacine birds are usually housed indoors, where they are exposed to both artificial and natural light. If the amount of light exposure is greater than 10 hours a day over a period of a few weeks, the hen's natural hormonal activity for breeding will be triggered. A female bird doesn't necessarily need a mate to lay eggs. Other stimuli that may induce sexual behavior and egg laying include cage items or objects, such as a toy bird, mirror or nest box. The bird's owner may also sexually stimulate the bird by petting or stroking the bird's back, which mimics or is interpreted by the bird as copulation. Naturally, after having exposure to the stimuli, the bird now begins to lay eggs. Her goal is to lay a clutch of eggs, incubate them, and raise the young she produced.

The problem that often occurs next is that the bird's owner removes the eggs as they are laid. This only encourages the bird to lay more eggs, because instinctively the bird is trying to produce the next generation of birds. This phenomenon is often termed double clutching, and some breeders do this to produce and raise more birds for the pet market. As the bird continues to lay more eggs, and the eggs are still being removed by the owner, the bird's health is jeopardized. Excessive egg laying places high demands on the bird's body. If the hen is on an inadequate diet with little or no calcium, the bird will eventually become hypocalcemic. Hypocalcemia will then lead to soft-shelled eggs, egg binding and soft, brittle bones. Egg binding can result from excessive egg laying and low dietary calcium intake, along with vitamin and dietary imbalances. If the hen is allowed to continue to lay eggs and is on a diet deficient in calcium, vitamins and adequate protein, the bird's body will have an increased demand for calcium for proper egg-shell formation. Since the bird has little to no calcium in her diet, the only place the body can obtain calcium is from the long bones of the body.

Other body structures are also affected by the lack of calcium. Calcium is necessary for normal muscle contraction; without it, the hen may exhibit seizures and sometimes partial paralysis. Many old-time canary breeders familiar with this condition often use the term "cage paralysis," to describe this type of calcium deficiency. The egg-bound hen is often found huddled in a corner on the cage bottom. She'll often have a larger-than-normal thin or soft-shelled egg in the distal portion of her reproductive tract. The lack of calcium lead to the development of the soft-shelled egg and the inability to properly contract and expel the egg. The bird is now in a lifethreatening situation. Fortunately, many birds can be saved with the help of a well-qualified avian veterinarian. Many of these birds will require radiographs or x-rays to help the veterinarian make a diagnosis of egg binding. Hospitalization, along with injections of oxytocin, calcium and vitamin D, are all necessary to help expel the egg and correct the calcium imbalance. In some instances where medical treatment is ineffective, the egg may require removal through surgical or manual manipulation. Once the bird has been stabilized and the egg expelled, dietary and nutritional changes are made to prevent egg binding from reoccurring. So now that we know that excessive egg laying can lead to egg binding, how do we control excessive egg laying so egg binding won't occur? The first thing is to decrease the amount of light to which the bird is exposed. By decreasing the amount of light exposure, we may be able to trick the bird's internal hormonal mechanism into believing that breeding season is ending. This should be done gradually over the course of a few weeks.

The next step is to leave the eggs in the cage. By leaving the eggs alone, we are giving the hen a chance to lay a clutch of eggs. After the clutch number has been reached, the hen will naturally stop laying eggs. Make sure the hen has adequate nutritional intake with enough calcium, vitamin D3 and protein. Sources of calcium include cuttlebones, calcium/mineral blocks and calcium powder. Vitamin D3 is in most vitamin supplements made for pet birds. Vitamin D3 can also be made by the bird's body if you expose your bird to unfiltered sunlight or UV lighting. Vitamin D3 can also be added to the diet like the calcium powder. Protein sources include eggs, legumes, tofu, meats and formulated diets made for breeding birds. Once the hen has stopped laying eggs and is incubating them, cut back on the protein, but maintain adequate calcium and vitamin supplementation. Leave the eggs in the cage for the normal length of time required for the eggs to hatch. Afterward, the eggs can be discarded. Hopefully by now the hen will no longer want to continue laying eggs. If egg laying still continues, medical treatment with hormonal drug therapy may be necessary. There are various hormonal drug therapy preparations available. They include drugs such as medroxy progesterone (Depo-provera), leuprolide acetate and human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG). Hormonal drug therapy works by suppressing ovarian development, which will consequently delay egg laying.
If medical therapy is unsuccessful, surgical treatment can be attempted as a last resort to stop chronic egg laying.
Hormonal drug therapy is administered by injection, which may need to be repeated to successfully suppress egg laying. Like any drug therapy, side effects may be a possible problem, and repeated treatment may not be in the best interest of the hen. If medical therapy is unsuccessful, surgical treatment can be attempted as a last resort to stop chronic egg laying. The surgical procedure performed is a salpingohysterectomy. This procedure involves the removal of the "uterus" and the oviduct, but not the ovary. The ovary doesn't need to be removed because it will no longer be secondarily stimulated by a hormonal feedback produced by the "uterus" to release ova or eggs.


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PostSubject: French molt   Sat Mar 14, 2009 3:43 pm

French Molt:
This discussion of French molt is one of the most detailed. French molt is, undoubtedly, the worst illness that a Budgie breeder can experience among his birds. It can ruin the joy of an entire season or even destroy the incentive to keep Budgies forever. Even a beginning breeder can recognise a victim of French molt. Early signs of trouble are dropped pin feathers. Then you will notice birds that cannot fly at the time they ought to be ready to leave the nest, even though there seems to be no reason why they aren't able to fly. Tail and wing pin feathers are partially missing at that time and pin feathers continue to drop. Dropped pin feathers look weak and curled. If you take one in your hand you notice that it lacks resilience and feels weak. The last centimetre of the quill is filled with a red liquid. This appearance of "bloody pins" in young birds is a sure sign that French molt is a problem. Birds with French molt move by climbing around the cage. It takes months before the birds have enough pin feathers to fly. Those born late in the season have poor prospects because they don't have a chance to recover before the onset of winter. Beginners, especially, should never buy birds that have had French molt. There always is a good chance that they will produce more birds with the same problem. Your best protection is to always buy from a reliable dealer or breeder. Watch to see that you get birds that look strong and well developed, have good feathering, and are a normal weight. Birds with French molt almost always weigh less than completely healthy birds. There are a number of theories attempting to explain the cause of French molt. Most of the explanations agree that it isn't really a true "illness."

And many of them hold that a basic cause is inbreeding that has gone too far. People who fear inbreeding point to the fact that new Budgie blood has not been imported for some time, so that all captive birds have become more or less related. This, they say, has caused a weakening, which can lead to French molt under certain circumstances. Therefore, people should keep "freshening up" the blood of their Budgies by buying or otherwise acquiring unrelated birds. The theory holds that there are many outwardly normal birds who carry the tendency toward French molt. When these birds are mated, the tendency is intensified and outward signs of problems appear. More technically, French molt is triggered by a recessive gene that must be received from both parents. Another theory holds that the illness is caused by weak parents. In other words, it would be nothing more than a weakness inherited by the young, manifested by the symptoms of French molt. Dr. Mannaerts, a breeder from Bladel in the Netherlands, believes firmly that you can avoid the problem altogether by not breeding with any birds that have small grey or black cross-stripes in the pin feathers. You can easily note these stripes ----especially on the light coloured pin feathers by spreading the tail and wings. The stripes, supposedly, indicate carriers of the problem. In a recent interview, Mannaerts pointed to his record of complete freedom from French molt in his aviaries, while another, neighbouring breeder had dozens of cases. This breeder had not "freshened up" his bloodlines in an earlier season and had not paid any attention to the tell-tale stripes. Be that as it may, Mannaers has been breeding Budgies for years and has a reputation among breeders for the high-quality birds he produces. In a way, Mannaer's theory also includes the notion that inbreeding promotes the development of French molt even if it isn't a direct result of this practice. The late Mr. H. Van Dijk of Eindhoven in the Netherlands believes that French molt is caused by parasites specifically the larvae of a type of moth.

These moths deposit their eggs in the droppings found in the nest and in the seams and walls of the nest box. The resulting larvae feed on the horn of the feathers and thereby interfere with their growth. This moth can in fact be found in some nest boxes. It looks like the ordinary clothes moth, but the wings have brownish spots instead of being silver-grey. Van Dijk also was well-regarded in the Budgie fancy. He had been breeding for 50 years, had bought, sold, bred and traded tens of thousands of them, and was the founder of a bird park. He claims never to have had a problem with French molt in his aviaries. His theory rejects the inbreeding hypothesis totally without implying that inbreeding isn't a problem. Van Dijk saw inbreeding as a problem that has nothing to do with French molt. Still, his theory does not do away with the notion that a bird which is weak by nurture or by nature would show the effects of French molt to a greater degree than a completely healthy bird. Van Dijk's theory is supported by the fact that birds with the illness can develop into normal birds after the pin feathers of the tail and wings have grown back. The theory also implies that the continuous molt that occurs in older birds is caused by breeding or housing them in infected nest boxes. The upshot of this theory is that absolute cleanliness in the nest boxes can completely prevent the occurrence of French molt. Nest boxes would have to be serviced daily and cleaned after each brood by boiling them in water and disinfecting them with insecticides. Dr. M.D.S. Armour, an English Budgie expert, doesn't recognise French molt as a true illness or disease. In his book, Exhibition Budgerigars, he rejects inbreeding as a cause, but expresses the belief that the problem is caused by a type of mite. This mite is said to resemble the grain mite.

It gnaws a path to the roots of the pin feathers and causes an infection that inhibits their growth. The infection irritates the skin, causing the bird to bite and pull at the feathers, thereby aggravating the condition. Dr. Armour is certain that the mite saps the feathers ability to grow. He points to the dark mass that can be found at the bottom of the shaft of feathers that have fallen out. Many breeders accept Dr. Armour's theory because it accounts for a number of symptoms associated with French molt. The dirty, red fluid in the shaft could be caused by blood associated with the infection and the dirt could be the excrement of the mite. Because the mite infection could occur at any time, it is consistent with finding cases of French molt in the second and third brood as easily as in the first. It also explains why certain birds are affected to a worse degree than others. And it accounts for cases of continuous molt in older birds, which, naturally, can also be infected by the mite. Therefore if one could prevent mite infestation, problems with French molt could possibly be avoided. As a cure, Dr. Armour recommends Chloroxylenol or Chloroxylenolum(UK) , an antiseptic that is safe for use with pets. He recommends removing all infested feathers and then dipping birds in a bath of warm water to which a tablespoon of Chloroxylenol has been added. Repeat the treatment every three or four days, and infested birds will recover completely, Dr. Armour says. The repeat treatment in a Chloroxylenol solution serves to kill mite eggs and larvae. The birds aren't damaged by the treatment, even if they get some of the solution in their mouths and eyes. Put treated birds in a cage without sand on the floor for several hours. After they have dried, they will look fresh and fit. Dr. Armour also says not to use birds with bloody pin feathers for breeding until they have been treated and have recovered fully. If you breed from affected birds, you will almost certainly find that one or both parents had the tell-tale bloody pin feathers. According to Dr. Armour, you will never raise birds with French molt if you treat all breeding stock with chloroxylenol before breeding. French molt sneaks up on your flock without warning and must be prevented at any cost.

(Please note that as far as far as we are concerned there is no proven cure in Canada for French moult and we have not seen or heard of this treatment and have no knowledge of where you can buy this chemical.)

This is a clear case of where an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure. The preventive recommended by Dr. Armour is disinfecting the cages with sulphur-fume or spraying them with chloroxylenol twice per week. Not everyone considers Chloroxylenol a complete solution, although most English breeders report good results. For example, C. Enehjelm, the director of the Helsinki Zoo, has his reservations which I pass on without comment. American scientists believe that French molt is a dietary deficiency caused by improper feeding. They also believe that the trouble also has a hereditary form. Dr. Steiner of the University of Zurich (Switzerland) agrees with the hereditary explanation and calls the problem a type of genetic degeneration. The worst cases of French molt, birds that never learn to fly--are called DD cases by Dr. Steiner. Dr. Steiner gives a genetic designation (or genotype) of DD to birds that were affected in their youth but later learned to fly. He calls normal birds "dd" types. Using this model, Dr. Steiner has shown that the putative factors for French molt follow Mendelian law. Accordingly, DD birds are heterozygous for the disease. This means that they don't have the disease themselves but are carriers of it. Dr. Steiner holds that French molt cannot he caused by a dietary deficiency. His feeding experiments showed that DD type birds continued to exhibit symptoms of French molt after being placed on a diet rich in vitamins and other dietary supplements.

Now that you've read a wide range of theories about French molt, I'll present the one that makes most sense to me. It is put forward by the American Budgie expert, Cessa Feyerabend, who believes that nutritional deficiency in the young Budgie plays a major role in the development of French molt. The theory is supported by the newest research findings, which indicate that nutritional deficiency most certainly is involved. Feyerabend's theory supposes that this trouble starts when the feeding behaviour of parent birds or the so-called "Budgie milk" they provide is not adequate over a period of time. This milk, made up of half-digested food, is rich in fats and proteins. If certain proteins or protein precursors (called amino acids) are missing, then the young are supposed to exhibit French molt symptoms. Even if the deficiency is corrected later on, the symptoms are supposed to remain. For proof, Feyerabend points to the fact that some birds in a brood may have French molt, while others are free of it. She attributes this situation to the large difference in age that sometimes occurs within a brood. Also she postulates that the sick birds were deprived of Budgie milk of a certain composition at a time when they needed it critically. Instead, they received milk of a composition suited to the needs of their brothers and sisters. Budgie milk of the wrong composition could be present as the result of negligence, inbreeding, or excessive breeding. A second cause could be a supply of the wrong kind of seed or too-old seed. Thirdly, vitamin deficiency could be involved. Experiments have shown that vitamins from the B and G groups are essential for feather growth. Fourth, extremely warm weather during the feeding period could be a possible cause if the parents then do not feed the young properly. To avoid providing the wrong seed, Feyerabend advises against using red millet and old seed that may have lost some of its critical feeding value. Instead, Feyerabend recommends white millet mixed with cod liver oil and powdered beer yeast. She uses a tablespoon of the yeast in five pounds of millet. I add the following advice:
1. Buy and breed only totally healthy birds.
2. Thoroughly clean and disinfect nest boxes so that parasites don't get a chance to develop.
3. Always furnish a properly constituted diet that provides the proper vitamins.
A supplement that includes a protein rich in Vitamin A is also strongly recommended.


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PostSubject: Parasite/Mites   Sat Mar 14, 2009 3:45 pm

Parasite/Mite Control:
Please note that mites do not transfer to people from birds. If you are itchy and think it might be mites from your birds it may be lice (not from your birds) or just an allergic reaction to the feathers or feather dust or dust from the droppings from the birds.

The mites usually attack the birds at night, then retire to cracks and crevises during the day. Mites keep the birds restless at night, running about the skin and feathers and sucking blood. Some hens are known to abandon their nests and babies because of the mites.
You can sometimes check for mites by placing a white cloth over the cage at night and in the morning you may see tiny spots on the underside of the cloth.
Note:These are very small and unless you have excellent eyesight, you may need a magnifying glass to see them.

For mite problems on the face, cere, legs and/or beak see scaly face.
For horny growths on the cere see hypertrophy of the cere.

Warm and humid weather speed up the reproduction of mites. This is one of the reasons why some breeders only breed during cooler months such as September to May in Northern and U.S. regions. The quill mite is among the largest of the mites making it easily visible to the human eye. The birds bite off their feathers or pull them out. Tumors and/or cysts can then form. Quill mites travel from bird to bird making it contagious. It attacks young and old. It was first found in chickens and pigeons. Experienced breeders can tell if he has mites or other diseases by the way in which the bird moves. If he moves his head in a jerking or thrusting way he may be scratching for mites instead of just preening.

Cure or Prevention
A cure for a severe mite problem is IVERTMECTIN available at most vets or some pet supply stores. Dettol disnfectant can be used for mild cases of mites on the legs and cere and for disinfecting cage utensils. Some oils such as mineral oil or baby oil can also be used as the oil willl kill the mites and soften the skin. In time the dry crusty area will come off.

The only way to prevent mites from re-occurring if they do, is to disinfect the entire cage, food utensils, toys, etc. If more than one bird is present you must treat them all even if only one seems affected. Some pet shops carry items you can hang in the cage that is supposed to get rid of mites but we have never tried these and doubt their effectiveness. Dettol is a good disinfectant to clean the cage and dishes. Perches and toys should be boiled or soaked in bleach and rinsed clean with fresh water and let dry before placing back in cage.

A number of parasites can infest nest boxes. Mites, moths and fly larvae. Fly larvae are most common in summer, when they develop easily in the wet droppings in nest boxes, where the flies lay their eggs. The larvae do not seem to bother the birds directly, but it doesn't require much imagination to realise that they don't do the birds any good. An infested box soon gets to be a messy place. So, in summer, take special care to see that the wet droppings are removed as speedily as possible. Scrape them off the floor and disinfect. Spread a fresh, thin layer of sawdust before replacing the eggs or young in the nest. The so-called "red louse (mite)" or "bird louse" is harder to eliminate. It is really a type of mite that some believe to be related to the supposed causative agent of French molt. It isn't really red either---more nearly grey. But once it has sucked its fill of blood, its body swells and the ingested blood shines red through the thin skin. During the day, the louse remains in the cracks of nest boxes. At night, it stages raids on the young and even the older birds sleeping on their perches. These raids are most damaging, largely from loss of blood.

Affected birds lose their zest for life and look so depressed that you can tell at a glance their is trouble. This parasite, also can be fought by cleaning and disinfecting nest boxes and using antiseptics and insecticides. Nest boxes should be cleaned in boiling water, disinfected, and whitewashed with natural chalk. Prevention is better than cure. Taking preventive measures keeps the louse or mite from gaining a foothold. The feather or quill mite is similar to the red mite although it can lay its eggs on the bird making it easier to control.

Treatments of the birds alone is useless. The mites can live away from the hosts for weeks or months. Boiling of the nest boxes in water is recommended for Breeders and then washing with a disinfectant. Some mites are barley visible but can become more visible to the eye by placing a white cloth over the cage or nest box at night. In the morning the mites will be attached to the underside of the cloth making them more visible to the human eye. This may be a good choice if you are unsure if you have mites or not.

We clean our nest boxes in hot water and pinesol disinfectant about once every 2 months. We let them soak in this in a laundry size tub for a few hours and then scrub them with a brush while rinsing them off. A good rinsing is essential if you are using a cleaning fluid. The cleaning frequency just depends on whether the parents have eggs or babies. We have extra nest boxes, so as we remove one to be cleaned we place a clean one in its place so their is not a long period for the parents to be without their nest box.

Be very careful to only use what other breeders have proven is safe and works for them, or by using cleaners and disinfectants recommended by pet shops or vetrinarians for the health and safety of your birds. Most bird owners today say to use IVERTMECTIN for severe mite problems. It can be found at most vets, some pet supply stores and farm supply depots or stores. If this is not available you can look for Malathion, Gamma Benzene Hexachloride or Derris Root. Just ask for an acaracide that is safe for birds to treat mites.

Three sprays we have tried that worked for us are below. They can be used on the cages and the birds.
Hagen (brand name) bath spray for birds. Kills mites and lice etc. Most pet shops carry this.
Colombine (brand name) spray for birds. Kills mites and lice etc. We bought it from Moores seed supply.
Diversey (brand name) spray for birds. Kills mites and lice etc. Bought from Flikkema aviaries in Fenwick, Ontario.


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PostSubject: Psittacosis and Ornithosis (Parrot Fever)   Sat Mar 14, 2009 3:46 pm

PSITTACOSIS and ORNITHOSIS (Parrot Fever)

PSITTACOSIS
The two most dangerous illnesses of Budgies and parrots--especially from the viewpoint of transmissibility to humans--are psittacosis and ornithosis. The two diseases are closely related to each other, with psittacosis the most dangerous for handlers. Budgies are basically healthy birds with good natural resistance. Given good care, the birds generally don't suffer much from disease. But psittacosis when it occurs, is a serious problem that should not be taken lightly. Psittacosis is a communicable disease of birds. Birds with psittacosis may exhibit typical symptoms or be silent carriers that look healthy while shedding germs and infecting other birds. The method of transmission is through the droppings or nasal secretions. Humans can be carriers to. Humans infected with psittacosis have symptoms reminiscent of pneumonia or typhus, with high fever and frequently spots on the abdomen. Not all cases reach this dangerous stage, often, symptoms are mild and disappear quickly. The disease almost always is picked up from birds, there are practically no known cases of transmission between humans. Few people die from psittacosis, and fear of bird diseases should not keep people from the hobby. The best lesson to draw from the human risk is to promote cleanliness.

It seems reasonable that people generally get infected by breathing in dust containing dried droppings. So clean the cage bottom regularly and cover it with clean sand to minimize this problem. The birds themselves exhibit serious symptoms in the respiratory organs. Nasal secretions are common. So is a type of diarrhoea that is green, slimy, and sticky---generally causing the feathers around the cloaca to stick together. The remedy of choice since 1959 has been aureomycin. American research proved this antibiotic effective for treating psittacosis at that time. Aureomycin can be purchased premixed into seed, or it can be bought in powder form for use in the drinking water. The yellow powder is available at drug stores, quantities no larger than the head of a matchstick should be mixed into about a pint of water. Furnish medicated water for several weeks when psittacosis is suspected. Within that time, infected birds should have recovered and carriers should no longer pose a danger. More recently a newer antibiotic, chlortetracycline, has proven even more effective than aureomycin. Ask your veterinarian for instructions for use. Any bird exhibiting symptoms of psittacosis should immediately be placed in isolation. Don't try to save it, even if it is from your most valuable stock. The dangers inherent in keeping the sick bird around far outweigh the value that any one bird represents. Don't assume that every bird with a runny nose and diarrhoea has psittacosis. A number of other illnesses could cause the same symptoms. Enteritis is a prime example.

ORNITHOSIS DIAGNOSIS:
It will be appreciated from what has been said that clinical signs are far from specific or diagnostic, although in typical cases the post-mortem lesions are fairly characteristic. The disease may be suspected from the pattern of infection in an area or premises. Confirmation, however, requires highly specialised laboratory techniques. One method is serological testing for antibodies of the disease. This is the usual method when human beings are involved. It is merely a method of measuring the amount of resistance the man or bird has developed in response to meeting the disease. If this happened a long time ago, the antibody level will be low. When the disease is being actively fought, however, the level rises rapidly. A fairly recent infection produces a high level of antibodies which only falls slowly over months or years. Other stages such as complete recovery, the carrier state, or lack of adequate antibody response to infection all give inconclusive results. An old way of detecting the presence of the infection in a bird can be demonstrated with certainty after death by infecting a susceptible host, such as a mouse. This involves inoculating an extract of a piece of diseased liver, spleen or other internal organ into the brain or peritoneal cavity. Death of a proportion of inoculated mice showing certain characteristic lesions confirms the diagnosis. The disease can also be diagnosed by inoculation of the extracts into the yolk sacs of living embryonated eggs.

TREATMENT:
Most books recommend that infected birds should be destroyed. It is unwise to attempt treatment unless the dangers of the situation are appreciated and the premises and stock are self-contained. Treatment should be carried out only under the strict supervision of a veterinarian. The owner should not underestimate the considerable danger to himself, his family and others who may come into close contact with his birds or himself. The tetracycline’s are the best drugs where treatment is thought prudent. They check, but do not necessarily kill the causal organism. Symptomatic treatment and careful nursing should accompany the specific antibiotic therapy.

ABOUT ORNITHOSIS:
Probably more has been written about ornithosis than any other avian disease. It was first recognised and named in 1879. Because the disease is infectious and sometimes even fatal to human beings, the importation of psittacine species or parrot-like birds has been controlled in several countries as these species are especially susceptible to the infection. It was originally thought that a virus caused the infection, but it has now been established that the agent is a rickettsia-like organism, which is usually referred to as Redsonia and more recently called Chlamydia. Ornithosis, which literally means "bird disease" started its recognised life with the names psittacosis and parrot fever, because it was originally believed that only parrots were affected. When the seriousness of human infection was realised and cases arose in people not in contact with parrots or budgerigars, investigations were carried out on numerous other species. It is now known that many species in a variety of families of birds and small mammals also carry the disease, often with little or no clinical signs in the creatures themselves. Although psittacine birds still appear to account for the greatest number of cases, ornithosis also occurs occasionally in domestic poultry, (especially in turkeys, ducks and pigeons), certain seabirds and some other species. The virulence of the disease varies from species to species and from outbreak to outbreak. Investigations in England, have shown that a high percentage of pigeons develop an immunity to the disease, while a smaller number harbour the ornithosis agent with little clinical effect. Human infections derived from pigeons appear to be less serious and less common than those contracted from parrots. It is possible that birds in the parrot family have the power of increasing the disease's virulence for man. Alternatively, more virulent strains may survive best in psittacines.

The ornithosis agent is susceptible to some antibiotics, especially tetracyclines. It is of world-wide occurrence and is endemic in the bird population of many countries, as is shown by the detection of antibodies in the sera of many species. Only quite brief contact may be necessary for one bird to infect another or a human being. Transmission is by inspiration of the organism in water droplets or dust. A less common method of infection is via the mouth. Although showing no clinical signs of disease, many birds excrete the organism in the droppings or nasal discharges, while the feather dust and debris may also be contaminated. Repeated passages through a succession of individuals occasionally results in an intensification of the virulence for that species, until some birds show obvious signs of the disease and even die. The most commonly infected cage, aviary and ornamental birds are the psittacines, including the entire range of parrots, parrotlets, parakeets, budgerigars, macaws, cockatoos, cockatiels, lories, lorikeets and lovebirds, as well as all types of pigeons and doves. Gamebirds, including pheasants, partridges, certain ducks and also species of hummingbirds, magpies, tits, thrushes, various finches including the Java sparrow, canaries and cardinals, and some members of the troupial famiIy are occasionally infected. No list can be complete because new host species are frequently being found.

CLINICAL SIGNS:
Clinical signs of the disease include green or grey diarrhoea, listlessness, huddling, closing of the eyes and conjunctivitis, droopiness, occasionally a watery or pus-like discharge from the nostrils and/or beak, rattling respiratory sounds, rapid laboured breathing, lack of appetite, loss of weight, prostration and death. Flight is inhibited in older birds due to weakness and listlessness. Young stock are particularly susceptible. Intensively kept birds, such as those kept in large numbers in an aviary and bred collectively are most vulnerable to serious outbreaks. As with all diseases, the infection is less likely to occur in collections of birds where the hygiene is good and a balanced diet is fed. It is important to realise that birds which survive the disease may carry the causal organism for long periods, excreting it continuously or intermittently. These dangerous birds are called carriers, and may never show signs of illness. Although it is still not certain, it appears possible that some species can transmit the infection to the embryo by laying infected eggs. The shell may also become contaminated and infect the chick on hatching if the parent does its own brooding, or alternatively the adult may directly infect the nestlings. When transported long distances, birds are often subjected to stresses such as change of diet, fluctuating temperatures and restricted activity caused by overcrowding in cramped containers. Adverse conditions of this nature frequently lower the birds resistance to disease and especially to ornithosis. The survivors, however, reach the dealers and pet shops, where, when weak and therefore tame, they may be sold by unscrupulous people to unsuspecting members of the public. Under such circumstances the disease often becomes virulent for man and other avian species. The isolated parrot imported by a person for his family and kept under good conditions usually becomes acclimatised by the time he gets it home, and if by then it is still healthy, it is likely to remain so. It may still, however, be a carrier and a potential source of infection to its owner or any other birds with which it comes into contact.


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PostSubject: Feather plucker   Sat Mar 14, 2009 3:49 pm

What To Do With A Feather Plucker
by Ray Dorge & Gail Sibley

These authors offer tips to help birds that pick their feathers.

It never fails! Just when you think you have everything under control, for no apparent rhyme or reason, your bird starts to feather pluck. This is an owner's nightmare and one of the most frustrating problems with which a bird lover may have to contend. Exactly why a bird goes into self-destruct mode is a question that bird lovers have wrestled with ever since the first person thought it would be a nifty idea to keep a bird in a cage.

Keep Cool:
If your bird has lost some of its feathers, don't react as though it has just contracted a social disease -- stay calm! Here are a few clues to help you solve the mystery of why your bird is acting abnormally. First, let's define feather plucking as the behavior of a bird that intentionally pulls out or mutilates its own feathers. Do not confuse feather plucking with a molt. Birds naturally renew their feathers at least once a year. In the wild, this enables the bird not only to shed its own feathers, but also to rid itself of nasty pests such as feather mites. Although birds are now kept in clean, relatively pest-free environments, they have not lost the need to renew their feathers. With some birds, the molting process is so gradual that you hardly notice it except for the odd feathers on the cage bottom. For others, it can be so drastic that your bird will seem to lose almost all of its body covering (a good time to place a heat lamp near your bird's cage).

Having said this, an excessive molt can lead to feather plucking by an overly ambitious preener of incoming feathers. A plucked bird does not necessarily mean its condition is self-inflicted; the culprit may be another bird. A sure indication of a bird being picked by another is a plucked head, since a bird cannot pluck its own head feathers. A bird may pluck another if it is sexually frustrated because one bird wants to mate and the other is not prepared to do so, or it may be due to an overly aggressive mating ritual. Birds plucking the feathers of other birds may mean you have too many birds in too small an enclosure; birds need their own space. Once you have determined that your bird is not molting, is not under attack by another bird and that it is indeed feather plucking itself, then you must consider the two main reasons -- medical and non-medical -- for feather plucking. To eliminate the medical possibilities, have your bird evaluated by an avian veterinarian.

Although we will not detail the medical reasons why a bird will feather pluck, we will say that this syndrome can be caused by any number of medical reasons, including an injury; an infection; an allergic reaction; internal (worms or Giardia) or external (mites) parasites; or viruses, such as psittacine beak and feather disease. If the cause of the feather picking is medical, you and your vet can work together to solve the problem. If the cause is non-medical, read on to learn how you can help your bird.

Make Your Bird Comfortable:
While awaiting the results of your bird's medical examination, you can do a few things to make it more comfortable. Shine a full-spectrum light into your bird's cage, and sprinkle a vitamin supplement that promotes feather growth on your bird's soft-food mix. If your bird is semi-nude, it is a good idea to supplement the full-spectrum light with a heat lamp or at least a light bulb placed close to the cage. Make sure that your bird can get as close or as far away from the heat source as it wants. Keep the heat source available until your pet has made a complete recovery. To distract your bird from plucking itself, provide a toy it can chew on. We find that a bird rope or rope dog bone with a hard fiber center works well. Our birds amuse themselves for hours tearing the rope apart and crunching the center. Choose a rope that is made of natural, undyed fiber such as 100-percent cotton.

It is also a good idea to offer a bird bath to your nudist friend. Providing the bath in the morning will allow your bird the rest of the day to dry off. The bath will help the bird if it has been suffering from itchy skin caused by a dry environment. At the very least, spray-mist the little guy daily, because dry, itchy skin can induce feather plucking. Dry skin itch may also occur if your bird has not been receiving enough oil in its diet. This is usually not a concern if you supply a balanced diet that includes some seed. It may be a problem, however, if your bird is on a pelleted diet. A small dish of seed offered daily shouldn't hurt your bird even if you are a pelleted diet purist.

It's Not a Medical Problem:
When your avian veterinarian tells you that he or she cannot find a medical reason for your bird to be plucking itself, you may be tempted to throw up your hands in disgust or defeat. Before you abandon all hope, though, you should investigate a number of other possible causes for your bird's behavior. If your bird is not being treated for a medical problem, then the feather plucking may be caused by a psychological problem, usually stress. At first glance, the cause of the bird's stress may not be obvious; you may have to do some sleuthing to determine it.

Environment:
Just because we have learned to adjust readily to change, we believe that our feathered friends can do the same. Wrong! More often than not they react adversely to changes in their environment. A bird must feel secure in its environment before it can relax, chatter, sing, perch on one foot and tuck its head back to sleep. From the moment a bird hatches, it is adjusting to its environment. Baby birds rarely leave the security of the nest without first exploring the branches that they can reach with their beaks. Even after they have left the nest, they are in constant contact with their parents for security, feeding and training. Very slowly, they extend their knowledge of the world by moving further into their environment while establishing familiar landmarks. When those landmarks change, the bird reacts by fleeing to more familiar ground or to the safety of a parent. No doubt this instinctive reaction has helped preserve avian species, so it is little wonder that a captive bird becomes stressed when it cannot flee from an unfamiliar environment. To help a new bird adjust to its surroundings, cover the bird's cage before bringing it into your home, and leave the cage covered after you put it in place. Little by little, the cage is uncovered, allowing the bird to become slowly familiar with its new environment. Finally, when the bird appears to be well adjusted to its home, its owner relaxes. But if the owner becomes complacent, he or she may soon end up with a feather plucker.

If you should find yourself in this situation, consider the following:

* Has the furniture in the bird room been rearranged? This changes the bird's landmarks and disorients it. Our lovebirds go into fits of loud squawking whenever we make the slightest change in the furniture arrangement in their room.
* Has the position of your pet's cage been changed? Even turning the cage sideways can cause an adverse reaction.
* Has anything else been changed; perhaps there is a new cage cover? We know of an instance where a new jungleprint cage cover, with fierce-looking animals peering into the cage, frightened the cage inhabitants. We once had a bird react adversely (and this is an understatement) to a photograph of a face printed on newspaper in the cage bottom.
* Can your bird see a larger or more aggressive bird than itself?. This view may intimidate your little de-feathering friend.
* Has your bird been moved to a position above your eye level or into a cage with perches higher than those of your other birds? Your little pal may now be going through the trauma of having to assume the top-dog position in the bird hierarchy, a responsibility forced upon it by its high perch. Or has your dominant bird been moved to a lower perch than the others in your collection? This causes it to lose its status in the pecking order. We know of a dominant African Grey that was cured of feather plucking by placing its cage above the rest of the flock.
* Has a bird been added to the cage? Any addition to the bird community requires a re-establishment of each bird's position in the avian hierarchy. After quarantine, always place a new bird in a separate cage beside the cage it will eventually inhabit. Place its perches at the same level as its neighbors so that the new bird can slowly make the acquaintance of the established birds (and vice versa). Once they all appear comfortable, introduce the new bird into its new home and monitor the introduction carefully.
* Have you moved your bird into a smaller cage? It may be claustrophobic.
* Has your bird's mate been removed? Many birds grieve over the loss of a mate.
* Has a new person or pet been added to the household? Introduce either of these to your bird slowly. Any
* addition to the household requires a bird to adjust its place in the hierarchy of its extended family.
* Has a nest box recently been added to your bird's cage? This can cause a "now-you-have-to-mate" stress. Or has the nest box recently been removed? Perhaps your bird was preparing for another clutch when you disrupted its plans.
* Is more traffic passing by your bird's cage? An increase in activity can be very disruptive to a bird that is used to having privacy.
* Is your bird's cage receiving more sun than it used to? Too much direct sunlight can cause your bird to overheat. Always give it a shady place in its cage.
* Is your bird's cage constantly in deep shade? Your bird may be frustrated living in the dark. Full-spectrum lights work wonders to keep birds in good health and prime feather condition.
* Can your bird see a reflection of itself?. We say a reflection rather than a mirror image because other surfaces reflect, and some are not always obvious to us - for example, windows, glass cabinet panels and even television screens. Our male Pionus parrot reacts to such reflections as if an intruder is present.
* Is your bird getting enough sleep? Late-night loud sounds and light can disturb birds and cause them to lose their beauty sleep. A tired bird is a stressed bird.
* Has the interior of your pet's cage been altered? Has anything new, such as a toy or swing, been added? This item may be frightening your bird.
* Before cleaning your bird's cage, ideally you should have an identical, clean cage set up with all the same accessories (swings, toys, cuttlebone, perches) in the same configuration as in the dirty cage. Don't rely on memory; your bird will remember better than you. And be sure to stand the clean cage in the same location as the dirty cage.

Routine:
Because a bird thrives on routine, stress occurs when its routine is disrupted. A bird likes to know what to expect, when to expect it and from whom to expect it. Change anything in its daily routine and your parrot may start feather plucking. For instance, a bird may be accustomed to a certain amount of regular time outside its cage either with you or on a stand or a play cage. If you change the regular length of its play- time once it has become a routine, your bird may begin to feather pluck from frustration. A reduction in the amount of attention you normally devote to your feathered friend can also lead to feather plucking. This is especially true of cockatoos that are used to a lot of attention.

Boredom:
Confinement to a cage without adequate mental stimuli (toys) or the interaction of another bird can lead to boredom, which is another major cause of stress in birds. The more intelligent the birds, the more susceptible they are to boredom. Providing these birds with a variety of interesting toys, companionship and plenty of attention will distract them from having to amuse themselves by plucking their feathers. If you must leave your small parrot (lovebird size) in its cage for long periods of time, we recommend attaching a small-animal plastic treadmill (a hamster running wheel) to an inside wall of its cage. In addition to relieving boredom, running in the wheel gives the bird exercise. Our lovebirds and parrotlets relish racing around in or balancing on top of their wheels. (We hope that some day someone will devise such a toy for medium and large parrots to enjoy.) Some birds react positively to music. Our birds sing and chatter along with the radio. We believe that silence can cause stress, especially for a single bird left alone all day, and that the company of a constant level of sound, such as a radio, can relieve this stress.

Diet:
Variety is the spice of life. This holds true for your bird's diet, but a drastic change can be stressful to your bird. Changes in diet, such as converting a bird from a seed mix to a pelleted diet, are best made over a period of time so that your bird will learn to recognize and accept the new foods. If your pet is forced into accepting a new diet (including a change of pellet brands), it may begin to feather pluck.

Are You Stressing Your Bird?:
Birds are very empathetic creatures. They can pick up your vibes and mirror them. Your stress becomes their stress, which can lead to a vicious circle if you are becoming stressed out because your bird is stressed out and in self-destruct mode. So relax! Sometimes we inadvertently intimidate our birds with our body language and eye contact. A newly acquired bird can be intimidated if you stare at it. Another way you may be stressing your bird is if you are inconsistent in the way you reward and punish your bird's behavior. Always reward a positive behavior and always punish a negative one, but remember to never strike a bird. You must be clear in your mind as to how and for what behavior you will reward or punish your bird. Be sure never to deviate from this.

Old Habits Die Hard:
When all is said and done, feather picking is a difficult habit to break. Once a bird begins to feather pluck, whether from stress or a medical reason, this negative behavior can become a habit even though the cause of the problem has been diagnosed and treated. Nevertheless, your understanding of some of the many causes of bird stress will be beneficial to you and your bird. Once you know no medical cause exists for the feather plucking and you have made your best attempts to relieve your bird's stress, you should realize that your bird, although perhaps not picture perfect in its appearance, will retain its personality and continue to be a companion in the years to come. We hope these suggestions will help you and your bird live a stress-free life together. It may save you the trouble of having to pack up and relocate with your featherless friend to the canopies of the tropical rain forest.


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PostSubject: Colds   Sat Mar 14, 2009 3:50 pm

Colds:
If Budgerigars catch colds diarrhoea may be a symptom-an added difficulty for the breeder who tries to diagnose his birds illness. The diarrhoea may truly mimic the symptoms of enteritis even with an "ordinary" cold. A bird with a cold may also sit puffed up on the cage floor like a bird with enteritis--its feathers loose and dull. Two remedies can help Budgerigars---and other birds-----with colds. One is bismuth-bicarbonate, the second is heat. Bismuth-bicarbonate is available from any drugstore. It is a white powder that should be mixed with the seed and fed to the bird. Premix the medication into small groats or oatmeal if birds are used to these foods. Use one teaspoonful of bismuth-bicarbonate per cup of groats or oatmeal and sprinkle some of this premix over the seed. Don't start sick birds on new foods, however. You don't want to upset their system further with indigestion. Birds that hull their seed should be given extra powder, because part of the medication will stick to the hulls. In such cases, use two small teaspoonfull in a cup of seed. Heat can have wondrous results for birds with colds. Put the ailing bird in a hospital cage and place it in a dark, warm spot, about 61-76 degrees F. If necessary, cover the cage with a cloth. Birds can stand a considerable amount of heat, so don't be too afraid to get the patient too hot. Sprinkle some seed in the cage and put a dish of fresh water in it. Tonics can also help. Colds often are caused by drafts. Especially when you keep birds indoors, be careful to avoid drafts, for example when opening or closing doors and windows. Also avoid sudden temperature changes, as when you move a bird from a heated room to an outside aviary, or vice versa. Be especially aware of this after a bird recovers. If it recuperated in a warm cage, don't immediately put it back into an outside aviary. There is every chance of the bird suffering a relapse worse than the original cold. So accustom the recovered bird slowly to the temperature change. First move the hospital cage a distance from the heat source. Then put it into an unheated room before finally moving the recovered bird back outside.


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PostSubject: Enteritis/Diarrhoea Clagged Vent   Sat Mar 14, 2009 3:51 pm

PASTING OF THE VENT OR CLAGGED VENT:
Droppings sticking to vent area:
This is usually signs of Liver or Kidney problems and may be accompanied by the bird appearing very tired but eating normally. Other signs are huddlng, heavy breathing, and or weakness. The droppings should be looked at closely to check for possible blood stains meaning internal problems, or if just watery or mushy it may be related to diarrhoea from foods. It can also be caused by feeding the bird too much watery vegetables (lettuce) or spoiled food (causing a bacterial infection). You can clean this area with a 5% solution of lukewarm salt water and carefully clip the feathers away with scissors to help prevent the droppings from sticking there. Liquid paraffin can be given to help soften the blocked material and allow it to be voided if the vent seems clogged from inside and this can be found at vets or some pet shops. A vet should be contacted if the problem persists for more than a few days.

The Rectum & Cloaca:
The large bowel or rectum (colorectum) is a short, straight structure, whose main function is reabsorption of water and all useful digestive soluble materials; it is helped in this by the proctodeum of the cloaca. The useful materials include bile, mineral salts, used enzymes, sugars, fatty acids, amino acids and vitamins. If an inflammatory process occurs higher up the digestive tract, not only will the flow of ingesta be quicker than can adequately be dealt with by the absorptive powers of the rectum, but also the inflammation may eventually spread to the rectal wall itself. An enteritis seldom remains limited for long to a short portion of the tract. Both acute and chronic inflammations interfere with absorption from the rectum, and diarrhoea results. Tumours of the gut wall are not common in birds, abdominal tumours which press on the gut or liver being more frequently seen. These may cause irritation, increasing the flow of gut contents, or more usually causing partial obstruction. In the case of a large tumour, retained egg, or cyst of the oviduct or other structure in the posterior half of the abdomen, pressure on the rectum or cloaca results in partial or complete obstruction of the gut. When there is a slowly developing structure such as a tumour, the muscles of the gut above the growing obstruction tend to enlarge in response to the extra work. The obstruction to the lumen of the gut results in impaction with faeces anterior to the obstruction, and soon leads to general abdominal enlarge. When straining occurs, the abdominal wall is liable to rupture and the power of the abdominal contraction is lost. This stage usually causes obvious respiratory difficulty. The rate of breathing may increase, panting may occur, and abnormal, fluid-like clicking sounds may be heard in the chest on auscultation. Complete constipation may occur or faeces may be passed in small amounts and be infrequent, depending upon the severity of the obstruction. Sudden obstruction causes considerable straining and distress. Successful palpation of the obstruction is often impossible. Continuous pressure must be avoided because it will kill the bird by causing interference with respiration and blood circulation.

Sometimes the masses of faeces in the cloaca become very sticky owing to the absorption of moisture. The impaction then becomes difficult to void and may cause pressure on the gut, reproductive or urinary tracts. Liquid paraffin by mouth is the most useful simple remedy.
"Pasting of the vent" is the result of a disease causing diarrhoea or excessive excretion of urates, and is not a disease in itself. The "paste" can be composed of abnormal faecal or urinary products. Excessive brooding, incubating in wet or dirty nests, poor diet and hygiene, can all play a part in producing this unpleasant condition. At best it is a sign of some defect in diet, hygiene, or other aspects of husbandry, but in most cases it is a portent of disease about to show-itself in some other way. First, one should eliminate the simpler and less harmful possibilities and then consider the various infections. In uncomplicated cloacal inflammations and diarrhoea due to dietetic disorders, all that may be necessary is simple bathing of the vent, liquid paraffin by mouth, the use of an enema (under professional advice only), and attention to diet and hygiene. In other cases, the casual agent must be found and appropriate treatment given.
"Vent gleet" is a chronic inflammation of the vent or cloaca, particularly in the laying domestic fowl and occasionally in the male birds. It is characterised by necrosis of the mucous membrane which becomes covered with a yellowish layer of dead epithelium. The lesion gives rise to a very unpleasant odour and starts with swelling and reddening of the mucosa. The exact cause is not known, but since the greatest number of victims are laying birds, metabolic or stress factors may be involved. Although various bacteria may be isolated from affected vents, none are apparently capable of producing the disease without a predisposing cause. Only a few birds at a time usually become affected. Diarrhoea with "pasting of the vent" may occasionally be a contributory factor. Although this is primarily a disease of poultry, cage birds sometimes develop clinical signs which are indistinguishable.
"Constipation" is the name given for the excessive dehydration of the faeces in the rectum and cloaca which causes partial or complete retention. Contrary to common belief, this seldom occurs to a serious extent, unless a mechanical obstruction has held up the faeces in the first place. In other cases the cause may be due to an excess of fibrous material or grit in the diet, poor tone of the muscles in the bowel wall due to inactivity or obesity, or "pasting of the vent". Prevention and treatment are self-evident, an oily laxative being most helpful .

Prolapse of the Rectum:
Prolapse of the rectum is usually the result of, or in association with, enteritis of some severity or duration, which produces straining. In some cases the pressure from an enlarged organ or an abnormal structure such as a retained egg, tumour, cyst, or a ruptured or distended abdominal wall is the cause of the straining. This may result in the cloaca being turned inside out and either the oviduct or rectum, or both, also being partly everted and visible. The treatment requires the services of a veterinarian and is usually surgical in nature.

DIARRHOEA:
Diarrhoea is not a disease but a clinical sign. It simply refers to the voiding of fluid faeces. It can be caused by irritation or infection of the gut resulting from eating unaccustomed or contaminated food, watery foods such as lettuce or too much fruit, and drinking excessive amounts of milk or oily liquids. The watery urate fraction of the droppings is often mistaken for diarrhoea. Excessive amounts indicate urinary upset and not an alimentary disease. Diarrhoea can also be caused by pressure from a tumor of a gonad or kidney, liver damage, visceral gout, parasitism, a localized bacterial infection or even a change of environmental conditions or feeding routine. You should consult with a vet if any condition persists for more than 2 or 3 days.

ENTERITIS:
See Bacterial Infections for more info on Enteritis, Salmonellosis, Avian Cholera, Pseudotuberculosis, Streptococcal Infections, Staphylococcal Infections, Erysipelas, Tuberculosis, Mycoplasmosis.

Enteritis is the inflammation of part or all of the gut behind the gizzard. Although the symptoms of enteritis may resemble psittacosis, enteritis doesn't present a danger to humans. The droppings from enteritis are usually light green in color and are very smelly. The one intestinal infection of Budgerigars that can be transmitted to humans is the type caused by paratyphus bacilli. Laboratory work is needed to make a differential diagnosis. Standard enteritis is an intestinal infection, and affected birds exhibit a sticky, green diarrhoea. Birds with serious cases are deathly ill. Enteritis is highly contagious and in a single aviary you can have dozens of cases at the same time or close together. There are known instances where a breeder lost his entire stock inside several weeks. Early symptoms are dull looking feathers that tend to be loose. The sick bird flips its tail from time to time, sleeps a lot with half-closed eyes, and is listless and depressed. It breathes laboriously and seems to lose all fear of man. The diarrhoea is a later symptom. When it occurs, the bird spends a lot of time on the cage bottom. Producing droppings appears to be difficult, and accompanied by hefty movements of the tail. The cloaca seems to evert, and the feathers around it show the same stickiness as with psittacosis. Sometimes the droppings contain blood. If that happens, it is a sure sign that an intestinal illness is involved. If diarrhoea is accompanied with nasal secretions, then the problem is more likely to be psittacosis. You should take the bird to a vet if you suspect enteritis. In any case, the ill bird should be quarantined. I recommend isolating any sick bird, in a hospital cage, you will be able to study the symptoms calmly, and you will eliminate the chance of infecting other birds. If enteritis is suspected, thoroughly disinfect the cage of the suspect bird. Use Lysol or Chloroxylenol or chloroxylenolum (UK spelling). Bathe the bird itself in Chloroxylenol as well. Be extremely careful not to let intestinal diseases spread.

THE DUODENUM AND SMALL INTESTINE:
These organs are erroneously believed by many aviculturalists to be the seat of over half of the ills that affect birds because loose droppings are a common sign in digestive disorders and many diseases which are not confined to the digestive tract. These diseases are frequently lumped together, being referred to as "diarrhoea" or more often as "enteritis", the two words being used interchangeably by bird keepers. Diarrhoea is not a disease but a clinical sign. It simply refers to the voiding of fluid faeces.It can be caused by irritation or infection of the gut resulting from eating unaccustomed or contaminated food and drinking excessive amounts of milk or oily liquids. The watery urate fraction of the droppings is often mistaken for diarrhoea. Excessive amounts, however, indicate urinary upset and not alimentary disease. Enteritis is the inflammation of part or all of the gut behind the gizzard.

THE GIZZARD:
The gizzard is a tough structure and resistant to the enzymes and acids produced by the proventriculus. (glandular or forestomach) In the gizzard of omnivorous and seed-eating birds a great deal of pummelling and grinding of food occurs aided by grit which is normally present in this organ. The ingesta or partially digested food emerges as a pulp of fine particles of gruel-like consistency and is still strongly acid. In weak, debilitated birds the ingesta may be incompletely pulverised on entry into the duodenum, (part of intestine) where it is then liable to irritate the openings of the bile and pancreatic ducts thus leading to digestive disturbances. If a foreign body, such as a coin, button, nail, staple or small piece of wire is swallowed, it may cause no trouble until it reaches the gizzard, where it tends to be retained, in the same way as grit. Round objects cause a mild, chronic "gastritis" or ven-triculitis, which may not prevent the bird from living a relatively healthy life, but may cause occasional brief bouts of indigestion.

Sharp or hooked objects tend to bury their ends into the gizzard wall during contraction of the organ, probably causing pain and perhaps resulting in loss of appetite and consequently weight. Sometimes a sharp object will perforate the gizzard wall and cause peritonitis and death. Unfortunately x-ray examination does not always differentiate between foreign bodies and the shadows cast by grit in the gizzard. When a foreign body is strongly suspected an operation for removal is not to be embarked on lightly, even by an experienced veterinarian, because this is usually very difficult and the chances of success are low. Erosion of the horny lining of the gizzard does not appear to be as common in cage and aviary birds as it is in poultry, but it may result from a lack of vitamins such as vitamin A. In waterfowl and occasionally other species, gizzard worms produce severe erosions. Gizzard erosion can be suspected in vague illnesses accompanied by indigestion and loose, greenish, mucoid and intermittently bloodstained droppings. Distension and flabbiness of the gizzard musculature occurs mostly in debilitated birds, especially when the exit into the small intestine is impacted with hard fibrous ingesta. Such an obstruction soon causes depression, loss of appetite, and soft droppings which rapidly become smaller in amount, and are passed progressively less frequently. If the condition is not relieved, death can result from toxaemia even before the effect of starvation is felt. Birds affected in this way are generally those kept in planted aviaries or where little food and an abundance of coarse fibrous material is present. Liquid paraffin given slowly by mouth in liberal amounts using a dropper (10-20 drops per 100 gramme body weight) is the most effective and safest treatment. This tends to ease and soften the obstruction, and soothe the mucous membrane of the gut. Diagnosis is difficult and has to be based on careful observation, and consideration of all the circumstances.


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PostSubject: Tumors/Cysts/Lameness Leucosis & Other Swellings   Sat Mar 14, 2009 3:53 pm

TUMOURS & CYSTS & SIMILAR STRUCTURES

A "tumor" simply means a swelling, and the use of the term is usually confined to swellings which are not directly caused by inflammation. The term "neoplasm", has a roughly parallel meaning. It literally signifies a new growth, except that while it is initially developing it may not be recognizable as a swelling or tumor. The cells of a true neoplasm grow and multiply without the customary controls exerted by the body. The cells closely resemble the healthy cells from which they arise, but they are not arranged in any orderly fashion as they multiply and so far as is known they serve no useful function. Tumors are occasionally found in most avian species, but neoplasm's in budgerigars form a high proportion of that species' diseases, in which indeed they appear to be more common than in any other vertebrate animal. Tumors can affect any area or tissue of the body, including the blood, but a high proportion of tumors exist in, or just beneath the skin and produce a noticeable swelling. As time passes, more and more types are described and identified in cage birds, most bearing a close similarity in structure to those reported in man, mammals and especially poultry.

Types of Neoplasm's:
Tumor pathologists or oncologists as they are known, have classified the diverse list of non-inflammatory tumors in several ways. Most tumors can be separated into those which are benign and relatively harmless and those which are malignant. Benign tumors are usually firm, enclosed in a fibrous coat, and fail to spread out of that capsule. Malignant tumors are generally softer, not encapsulated and tend to spread to other organs; they invade tissues by the easiest routes, such as between tissue masses and via the blood or lymph vessels, producing secondary tumors or so-called metastases. It is these malignant tumors which give rise to the disease known as cancer. Oncologists classify tumors much further than this, however, depending on the origin of the cells from which they derive. It has been found that neoplasm's correspond to almost every type of cell recognized in the body, but some come from cells occurring only at certain stages in embryonic development.

Benign tumors are usually named by adding "-oma" to the name of the tissue of origin. For example, a fibroma is a tumor of fibrous or connective tissue; a lipoma is a tumor of fat or adipose tissue; an adenoma is derived from glandular tissue, and an osteoma is a bone tumor. There are, however, some exceptions to this rule. If the tumors are malignant and resemble tissues which in the embryo were derived from so-called mesodermal tissues they are known as sarcomas, those derived from ectodermal tissues being known as carcinomas. Thus a malignant tumor of fibrous or connective tissue is called a fibrosarcoma and a malignant, gland cell tumor is known as an adeno-carcinoma. Various odd terms such as papilloma are used for benign skin tumors or warts, this being an old name based on a fanciful likeness to a "little nipple". These names may sound a little confusing, but they are a neat way of describing the various neoplasm's.

Only a pathologist can pronounce the last word on the true nature of a growth, although a good guess can be made as to its type, from observing site, color, consistency and speed of growth. A benign growth, if situated in a vital organ like the brain or the liver, can be as lethal as a malignant tumor owing to the vital space it fills and the mechanical pressure it exerts on surrounding tissues. A tumor is not always a distinct sphere of tissue. Rapid growth in some neoplasm's causes rupture of the capsule and exposure of the contents. Many tumors are multiple. They can start in several places at once, but sometimes fibrous tissue cuts a tumor into groups or clusters. Others, mainly the malignant types, allow groups of one or more cells to break off which are carried to different parts of the body by blood vessels or lymph and start growing wherever they are deposited. These metastases liberate chemicals into the system which rapidly lead to death. Birds, other than poultry, do not appear to be greatly afflicted by such metastasizing growths.

Normal Growths:
A number of structures are present on certain birds. These have functional or ornamental purposes. Some are present in one sex only and clearly play a part in courtship. The fleshy comb and wattles of poultry and the snood of turkeys both have a breeding and heat-regulating function. Some characteristics like the colors of the beak play a part in stimulating the response of nestlings to imminent food as soon as the parent appears near. The cere of the budgerigar, the cere or wattle of the pigeon, the preen gland of numerous birds and the crest of the cardinal and cockatoo are all examples of specialized normal growths. Some of these structures, for example the various feather variations and the distensible crop of the pouter pigeon, are man-made since they have been produced by selective breeding. Occasionally, as the result of breeding for an unusual type of feathering--the crested canaries for example-man has implanted in these birds the unwanted tendency to develop hereditary "lumps", which are feather cysts known as "hypopteronosis cystica". The great majority of curious projections from the head and elsewhere in various breeds of canaries and pigeons are normal. Non-domesticated birds also show a wide range of feather variation. Although normal structures, these are by no means immune from disease, becoming injured or infected in the ordinary way and sometimes affected by neoplastic growths: seasonal variations in size and color may also occur.

Pathological growths, Subcutaneous & other superficial skin growths:
Some of the swellings found on the surface layers of birds are hard, hemispherical masses which make the skin bulge. They are painless and when the skin over them is cut, are seen to be lying free beneath the skin, apparently growing out of the underlying muscle, bone or other tissue. A deeper incision may reveal yellowish, cheesy contents which represent dead tissue. Lesions of this kind may be of several different origins. Some are abscesses which are relatively uncommon in birds, except for the chronic or so-called "cold" abscesses. The vast majority of such cheesy masses are devoid of any pathogenic bacteria. In racing pigeons, they are quite common in the breast and shoulder region; the contents are usually more fibrous and greasy than in other species, and sometimes contain a meshwork of fungal hyphae, usually Aspergillus. In such cases the swellings generally involve the interclavicular or subscapular parts of the airsac system. Sometimes a scar indicates where the exhausted bird has crash-landed into a wire or branch.

Pigeons, canaries and other species, especially budgerigars, sometimes develop skin swellings caused by fat tumors or lipomas. Usual sites are over the wings near the elbow or carpal joints, in the thigh and less commonly on the neck and head. On the breast of budgerigars in particular, excessive fat deposits can sometimes assume tumor proportions. Skin lipomas are very prone to internal degeneration: the center dies and may liquefy or become solid and granular, developing a greyish-pink or creamy coloration, which has little or no odour when opened. Some of these growths do not remain in the underlying tissues like a dome (the so-called sessile tumors), but separate and hang suspended in a fold of skin attached to the breast by small blood vessels, when they are known as pendulous or pedunculated tumors.

Sessile growths near joints are generally tumors of fibrous tissue or bone and are liable to be malignant. Fibromas can generally be removed by a veterinarian provided they are not too closely attached to muscle, bone or joints. Unfortunately it is seldom possible to be sure from external appearances whether such closely anchored masses are malignant or benign. Sarcomas and fibrosarcomas (malignant tumors) are almost as common as fibromas. Osteosarcomas, although less common than these, have been found affecting most bones of the limbs, the spinal column and also the skull. Perhaps the commonest bones involved are the femur, tibia, humerus, radius and ulna, especially near the joints. When malignant tumors are suspected by a veterinarian, the only hope of saving the bird's life is amputation of the limb well above the growth. This would only be justified in a valuable bird needed for breeding, there being no evidence that such malignant tumors are hereditary. If a part only of any tumor is removed, especially a malignant one, it tends to speed the growth and spread of the remainder. True skin tumors of birds papillomas), epitheliomas and carcinomas--are not common. Papillomas or warts seldom occur as frequently as they do in man and domesticated animals. A few sites which are prone to damage, such as the preen gland, the cere, the eyelids and the corners of the mouth, seem to develop a higher proportion of these tumors and related malignancies than other parts of the body.

Bizarre growths around the head are sometimes met with in budgerigars and less frequently in other birds. From their appearance they somewhat resemble horns. In about half the cases, some evidence of knemidocoptic mange or "scaly face" is present, suggesting that the disease is basically an inflammatory response. In others not even pathogenic bacteria can be found. These horns generally grow out from the fleshy parts near the corners of the mouth, the eyelids and other parts of the face or mask as it is known in budgerigars. They are small knobs or pillar-shaped objects, beige or orange colored, with a rough surface and are composed of a core of living tissue, well supplied with blood vessels, which is covered by scales of keratin and sebaceous material. They bleed profusely if incised, but can be pinched off, using ophthalmic-sized artery forceps. A little antibiotic dusting powder should be applied and an antiparasitic dressing may be necessary when Knemidocoptes mite infestation is suspected.

A number of non-neoplastic swellings may be confused with tumors. Near the joints, particularly those of the feet and to a lesser extent, the hock and tarsus (tarso-metatarsal region), shiny, creamy-yellow subcutaneous nodules which cause swelling, loss of joint movement and severe pain are generally signs of gout. Less frequently, the wing joints and cervical vertebrae are involved. Budgerigars are more frequently affected than other species. Hard fibrous nodules on the soles of the feet, containing material like pus, sometimes covered with a strawberry-like swelling which has a tendency to bleed easily, usually represent infected corns. This type of lesion is called "bumble foot". It can be crippling, and prevent the bird from gripping its perch properly, as well as causing lameness. Soft, fluctuating swellings anywhere on the body may be hematomas or blood blisters, cysts, or merely edematous areas. If they crackle on pressure, are translucent or give a soft hollow sound when lightly tapped, they probably contain air or gas and are emphysematous swellings. Painful swellings of the limbs are liable to be fractures, or tumors of the bone-destroying type. Feather cysts or so-called "lumps" in canaries, which are more correctly known as hypopteronosis cystica are hereditary.

Swellings affecting the deeper layer of muscle & bone:
In all species of vertebrates muscle is among those tissues least affected by tumors: cage birds are no exception. Tumors of other neighbouring tissues may spread between muscles or even infiltrate occasionally into muscle tissue itself, if malignant; but this is uncommon. Tumors of all three types of muscle--skeletal, smooth, and heart muscle---are extremely rare. Bone is much more commonly affected than muscle, both by tumors and affections of similar gross appearance. The benign slow-growing osteoma is rare, but chronic inflammatory bone thickenings are relatively common, and include periostitis, arthritis, gout, and certain other lesions of doubtful identity. Partially healed fractures can easily be confused with malignant bone tumors such as osteosarcomas. In such cases the affected limb is often swollen, hot and very painful; it is usually drawn up into an abnormal position. Manipulation will often show abnormal movement of the bone within the swelling. This is because the neoplastic cells invading the bone have caused it to fracture. This mostly occurs in long bones, such as the tibio-tarsus and tarso-metatarsus. When the bony orbit of the eye or the spine is affected, a somewhat tender, hard or rubbery swelling is all that is obvious in the early stages. The faster the growth, the softer the swelling, because the most active tumor cells are incapable of depositing bone or calcium. Although not common, osteosarcomas are among the most unpleasant tumors of birds, being those most likely to metastasize. The connective tissue is a common site of tumors. Fibrous, "fibro-fatty", and fibro sarcomatous tumors can occur anywhere in the body. Their consistency is the best guide to malignancy. A soft mass with little or no capsule is likely to be a cancerous or sarcomatous type. Tumors of blood vessels rather than blood cells have rarely been reported.

Swellings of the Head, Brain & Spinal Cord:
In these areas, swellings are usually neoplastic in origin and the head, with its specialized, highly active parts, is quite a common site for tumors. Irritation of long duration such as is produced by a chronic infestation of the cere by Knemidocoptic mites or a deformed beak which hinders feeding, seem to favor the formation of malignant growths. Cancer, that is carcinomas and sarcomas and of the beak, cere, forehead, eyelids and ear canal have been found both associated and unassociated with such irritations. Surgery is usually impossible, although cautery is successful in a few cases. Only a veterinarian, of course, should contemplate such drastic and potentially dangerous treatment. The mainly benign fatty and fibrous growths have already been dealt with. Tumors of the brain and spinal cord are comparatively rare. Those confirmed on post-mortem examination in budgerigars usually affect the pituitary gland in the base of the brain. Clinical signs as the result of brain tumors vary enormously. With some tumors as the growth enlarges, the optic nerve may be compressed and result in blindness. General pressure on brain tissue results in abnormal behavior, such as circling, staggering, inco-ordination of limbs and head, and metabolic disturbances. Local involvement of the area that controls feeding results in death within a few hours or a day or so, as the result of starvation. Diagnosis of the site, size and nature of brain growths on the basis of clinical signs is an unrewarding and virtually impossible exercise.

Swellings of the Internal Organs:
The diagnosis of a thoracic or abdominal neoplasm is often little more than an inspired guess. Circumstantial evidence may be present in abundance, but only in quite a small proportion of cases can a swelling be felt in that limited area of the abdomen not enclosed by the bony skeleton. Internal tumors cause illness in several ways:
1. By invading and destroying a vital organ, such as the liver or kidneys.
2. By liberating poisonous waste products into the tissue fluid and bloodstream.
3. By so enlarging and filling the limited space of the body cavity that neighbouring organs are squeezed and restricted in their action. Finally, they can no longer function adequately to support life.


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PostSubject: Tumors/Cysts/Lameness Leucosis & Other Swellings   Sat Mar 14, 2009 3:54 pm

The first two methods apply mainly to malignant tumors and the third to benign growths. Organs which commonly become neoplastic are the testicles, ovaries, kidney, liver, spleen, thyroid gland, and lung; roughly in that order of frequency. Other organs are occasionally affected. Of those mentioned, all except the lung usually contain tumors composed of one or other of their own tissues, the lung being a frequent site of secondary tumors or metastases. More than one type of tumor can be present at the same time, the first to develop apparently having no suppressive effect on the development of another type in the same or another organ. Because of their position, when any abdominal organs are affected by benign growths, the clinical signs produced as the result of pressure on adjacent organs are similar and indistinguishable from one another. The organs most sensitive to pressure are the lungs, heart and associated great vessels, and the gut. Pressure on the sciatic nerves caused by kidney tumors gives rise to leg paralysis. Clinical signs denoting neoplasia of the internal organs include panting, gasping, tiring quickly, fainting attacks, fits of the epileptic type leading to inco-ordination and other nervous symptoms, constipation, diarrhea, straining as if attempting to pass an egg, marked loss of weight, exhaustion and loss of consciousness. Swellings in the posterior part of the abdomen cause abdominal distension which may even lead to rupture of the muscle layers of the abdominal wall.

Diffuse and malignant tumors invading the liver or kidney generally produce a wasting illness, with diarrhea and watery, yellowish-white droppings and other evidence of indigestion which appear long before the abdomen shows enlargement. Testicular and ovarian tumors, if they do not produce abnormal sexual behavior patterns usually manifest clinical signs as the result of pressure on nearby organs, as well as abdominal swelling. They generally behave as benign growths and are among the few which are palpable through the abdominal wall with gentle, intermittent probing of the fingers. Sometimes these tumors can be removed by a veterinarian under suitable anesthesia. Thyroid enlargements are not usually neoplastic but rather an overgrowth of the gland in an attempt to overcome the lack of such substances as iodine. Neoplastic growth, with or without excessive thyroxine production, is, like carcinoma of the thyroid gland, uncommon, although cases have been reported in budgerigars, parrots and pigeons. A description of clinical signs associated with thyroid enlargement is given elsewhere.

Leucosis:
Leucosis is an abnormal multiplication of the cells which give rise to various types of white blood cells. All types of white cells, or rather their primitive formation stages, can multiply abnormally to form neoplastic tissue and give rise to forms of leucosis known as lymphatic, myeloid and erythroleucosis according to the types of cells mainly involved. In spite of the excessive multiplication of blood elements in this way, only a small proportion of the circulating blood cells is altered, and so the term leukemia or excess white cells in the blood is seldom appropriate. In poultry, lymphatic leucosis involving the nerves, liver and some other organs has a high incidence, and has been shown to be caused by a virus with an incubation period of several weeks or months. In cage and aviary birds it is not yet certain whether leucosis occurs in the same forms in which it is seen in poultry, but pathologists have found similar diseases, especially in budgerigars and less frequently in a few other species.

Clinical signs of leucosis include great loss of weight resulting in emaciation and death. Some birds show anaemia, and grey or yellowish diarrhea often occurs when the disease is advanced. Appetite and activity are reduced, and handling or frightening the bird greatly increases its distress. When the bird is suffering from the nervous form of leucosis known as neurolymphomatosis or Marek's disease, partial paralysis of one or both legs occurs, or sometimes one or both wings. The leg weaknesses so commonly seen in caged birds, however, are much more likely to be due to other causes, there being many diseases which can produce similar clinical signs. Except when more than one or two birds become affected in a single season, it is unlikely that the disease will be diagnosed except on post-mortem examination. There is usually no treatment. Euthanasia is the only course when leucosis is suspected. It is inadvisable to continue to breed from stock which has bred affected birds. Birds which have been in contact with those affected or with parents of the diseased stock are liable to be infected as a virus is probably responsible for the disease.

Cysts:
A cyst is a bag-like structure within a capsule of connective tissue and occasionally muscle. It is generally lined with a layer of secreting cells. Cysts normally contain fluid produced by this lining. Sometimes the contents are solid after water has been extracted from the secretion. Some authorities include under this heading hematomas,, pockets of air in the tissues, and in fact all abnormal cavities. True cysts can form almost anywhere in the body, but are particularly common in tissues containing gland cells, such as mucous and serous membranes, the liver, oviduct, kidney and the thyroid gland. Skin and subcutaneous cysts are fairly uncommon in cage birds, although the feather cysts of canaries are an exception. Degenerating fatty tumors with fluid centers, sometimes seen in budgerigars, can easily be mistaken for cysts. Experience helps to distinguish them, but only microscopic examination can reveal the true nature of these fluid-filled masses.

Cysts in the body cavity are even more difficult to diagnose than tumors. Most are found at necropsy or during an exploratory operation of the abdomen under anesthesia. Cysts are not malignant, but sometimes they can cause severe illness and death as the result of their size. Cysts of the thyroid gland, sometimes encountered in budgerigars, are very well supplied with blood vessels and are easily ruptured if the bird is roughly handled. This can lead to death in a few minutes as the result of internal hemorrhage. Cysts or dilations of the oviduct are met with quite frequently in budgerigars and occasionally in other species and may simulate abdominal tumors or egg-binding. Peritonitis may ensue if retained egg material accumulates in these pockets of the wall of the oviduct. Painstaking removal of the entire oviduct through a midline abdominal wound may have to be undertaken by a veterinarian if the bird is to survive.

Inflammatory Swellings:
The remaining processes which may be confused with the tumors and similar swellings already dealt with are almost entirely associated with injury or infection, and are therefore mainly inflammatory in nature. Sudden or acute inflammations are accompanied by the classical signs of swelling, heat, pain and usually reddening and impaired function of the part which is inflamed. Long-term or chronic inflammations on the other hand are seldom very painful, are cool to the touch, often of the same color or paler than the surrounding tissues, and although producing an obvious swelling do not usually interfere with the function of nearby organs, except sometimes mechanically, if near a joint or other mobile part of the body. Chronically infected areas may be of the cold or dormant type, which are symptomless apart from the swellings they produce. Others which are exposed to scratching, pressure or other factors causing continuous irritation, develop into so-called granulomas. These lesions caused by excessive production of repair or granulation tissue, contain scar-forming cells, numerous capillary blood vessels, and pockets of infection. The vitality of the area is so lowered by repeated minor injury and infection that complete healing becomes impossible. Common sites are the soles of the feet but also affected are the hocks, nostrils, third eyelid, angles of the beak, the fatty pad over the breastbone, the under side of the wing, the bastard wing, the tail and the preen gland. All these areas are prone to damage and most undergo repeated movement. Skin granulomas can be confused with tumors, the surface of which has undergone ulceration. This is often due to pecking or friction of some kind, almost invariably resulting in the destruction of the nerve endings and blood vessels in the skin. Necrosis or death of the over-lying skin inevitably follows' the loss of blood and nerve supply. Granulomas and ulcerating tumors can usually only be differentiated with certainty from one another by examination under a microscope. A special type of granulation tissue occurs in the remnants of the abdominal muscles, when these rupture after invasion by large quantities of fat or after enlargement of the abdominal contents by tumors or egg-binding. Granulomas in the abdomen are occasionally found to affect various organs, including the gut; in these sites they are potentially as dangerous as malignant tumors. Unlike true tumors, granulomas are sometimes associated with a degree of peritonitis.

Haematomas or Blood Blisters:
Haematomas or blood blisters are really confined hemorrhages. When blood vessels are torn or otherwise damaged, and the blood cannot escape from the wound to the surface of the skin or into a large cavity such as the abdomen, it collects in spaces between layers of tissue where it is trapped and produces a local swelling. In view of the small amount of blood loss needed to kill a small bird, such lesions are best left alone in case the excitement caused by handling results in further hemorrhage. In confined spaces, back pressure of the blood slows down the hemorrhage and clotting soon occurs. Left alone, the blood clots in haematomas and contracts, squeezing out serum which is slowly absorbed back into the lymph and finally into the circulation. The clot is gradually replaced by granulation and finally scar tissue, leaving nothing but a tiny nodule to mark its position. Organs can be enlarged by an increased inflow of blood or a decreased outflow. This occurs normally in the wattles and other fleshy structures of some birds and is a seasonal and hormonal variation.

Sometimes swellings may reach the size of a tumor when there is obstruction to blood flow due to tumor pressure or rupture of tissues. Congestion or engorgement of tissues with blood hinders tissue fluid flowing back into the bloodstream and its build-up in the congested organ leads to oedema. Oedema or dropsy is really the accumulation of lymphatic or tissue fluid in the tissues between cells. In a mild form it accompanies almost all inflammatory conditions and many others as well. In mammals it is commonly associated with a failing heart as well as several debilitating diseases. Ascites or abdominal dropsy is caused by the accumulation of fluid in the peritoneal cavity, when tissue fluid produced in the abdominal organs fails to drain into the lymphatic system. It is usually produced as the result of damage to the liver and kidneys and also when abdominal tumors interfere with the blood circulation. Ascites occurs in birds and should be suspected when a large, soft, fluctuating abdominal swelling develops. Oedema of the limbs or extremities is probably most frequently seen in foot enlargements caused by identification rings on the legs which are too small, becoming tight and interfering with the circulation. Once the swelling of an injured leg fills the space within the ring, the circulation to that limb soon ceases and lymphatic vessels, veins, and even arteries may be progressively blocked off by the strangulating pressure. The thin walled veins become blocked first, but the arteries continue for a time to carry more blood into the foot, so that the limb below the ring swells greatly. This swelling, partly venous engorgement but mainly oedema, persists until the ring is removed or the foot dies. Such a swelling if squeezed for a few seconds and then released, shows an indentation for some seconds where pressed with the fingers it "pits" under pressure. This pitting and blanching of the squeezed area is a sure sign of oedema. Treatment of oedema is related to removal of the cause when possible. In the case of pressure from a leg-ring, the answer is obvious, often, however, no cause can be found. In tissues which have been dropsical (swollen with an excessive accumulation of fluid) for long periods of time permanent changes will result, such as the deposition of fibrous material, especially around blood and lymph vessels. Thickened swellings of this kind can never revert to a normal state.

Tumours and Lameness:
Tumours are a serious problem for which no effective cure has been found although birds that are supplemented with vitamins almost never develop such problems. When tumours appear on the breast of the Budgerigar, they probably are caused by keeping them a long time in a cage that is too small. They have too little exercise and their wing muscles degenerate. Tumours on the head look more like cancer tumours. If tumours occur, lance them with a needle sterilised by boiling or heating them red-hot under a flame. Squeeze out any dirt inside the swelling. Then sterilise the wound with mercurochrome. The bird survives this type of operation remarkably well. But the affected Budgerigar will tend to develop another tumour in a new location. Sometimes, it may also develop a fatty degeneration. Humanely dispose of such a bird because nothing will help it. The cause is a disturbance in glandular function. Ask your veterinarian for advice! Wartlike excema on the head near the eyes and under the beak, the well-known scaly face, can be cured by applying penicillin as a salve. Isolate the affected bird till the cure is complete. Dettol disinfectant can also be used.

Swellings on the feet often are caused by mosquitoes that suck the birds blood while they sleep. These swellings are easily cured by making a few vary small cuts using a properly disinfected razor blade. Treat the wounds with mercurochrome--not tincture of iodine because that stings too much. Then wrap the treated leg with a small adhesive bandage. You don't have to worry about removing the bandage later. The bird will remove it, or else it will just rub off naturally. This treatment prevents infection when the bird scratches around the cage floor with the sore leg. If you have any hesitations about doing this, it would be better to consult an experienced avian veterinarian. I recommend mercurochrome to prevent infection in all types of wounds, whether caused by accidental injury or by a fight. A bird that no longer can use its legs properly suffers from lameness. The cause is thought to be a sexual disturbance. The lameness worsens with time till finally the bird can no longer perch and starts lying on the floor, unable to so much as move its legs. For the rest, such a bird is completely healthy and even will continue to eat normally. Since lameness is incurable, it is kindest to humanely dispose of afflicted birds.


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PostSubject: Overgrown Claws   Sat Mar 14, 2009 3:55 pm

Overgrown Claws:
Everyone knows that their own fingernails and toenails grow at a regular rate, and must be trimnmed frequently. The same applies to birds. In wild birds, nail growth and nail wear balance naturally. But the nails of caged birds are seldom exposed to the same abrasive wear as their wild counterparts. Consequently, the nails grow excessively long, unless you keep them trimmed properly. Long nails make it difficult for the bird to perch or climb, and the nails can get caught on various things and cause injury. When trimming the nails, it is best to pare off a little at a time, so that you do not cut into and expose the nail's quick. The "quick" refers to the blood and nerve supply that grows partway down the nail. In tight-coloured nails, the quick is easily seen, but black nails hide it completely. If the quick is cut, the nail will bleed profusely and cause the bird pain. The bleeding must be stopped immediately because birds cannot tolerate the loss of much blood. Apply a moistened styptic pencil, silver nitrate, iron subsulfate or a liquid anti-coagulant to the bleeding area. Then take a dry piece of cotton and apply little pressure to the nail until all bleeding stops. Sometimes heat cautery is needed to stop really stubborn bleeding. If the bird has lost any appreciable amount of blood, it should be kept at 26 to 29 degrees C., (80 to 85 degrees F.), and the cage should be covered for a few hours to keep the bird quiet. This will help it get over the shock of blood loss, and lessen the chance of renewed bleeding.

In older and frail birds the toenails sometimes grow excessively long, in extreme cases even curling like a corkscrew. The usual explanation is that the claws do not get enough wear on artificial perches and are smooth and too thin and do not allow for enough exercise. I am sceptical about this explanation because I have seen and know many parakeets that are not confined to a cage, perch only on natural branches, have complete freedom of movement, have rough stones in their living area, and still develop overgrown toenails. It is true, of course, that no caged bird can be provided with enough opportunity to wear down its claws sufficiently. nevertheless, accelerated growth of the claws usually goes hand in hand with some weakness. A bird with claws that grow too long needs steady care and high-quality food and should be watched closely. Since claws that are too long hamper and endanger a bird (catching in textiles or in a chain, getting stuck in cracks, impeding grooming) the toenails have to be cut periodically with nail scissors. For this procedure, as well as for any other treatment, the bird has to be caught and held properly. Don't try to catch a bird in flight, you could easily injure its wings or shoulder joints. Also avoid needlessly chasing your parakeet back and forth in its cage, this would scare the bird half to death. If all else fails, darken the room and reach for the bird from above while talking soothingly. Hold it loosely but properly in your hand. The bird's back should be in the palm of your hand with its head between your thumb and forefinger, your middle finger encircling its abdomen, and the toe about to be treated being held gently but firmly between your ring finger and little finger. Don't turn the bird upside down so that it lies on its back. Now hold the toe up to a bright light so that you can clearly see the dark blood vessels in the horny tissue of the claw. Trim the overgrown claw close to the end of the vein, cutting at an angle to leave the upper and outer tip longer than the inner part of the nail. If you should nick the vein a drop of blood will form but it causes hardly any pain to the bird. If the cut continues to bleed press styptic cotton against the end of the claw until the bleeding stops. Timid bird owners can ask a bird breeder, pet dealer, or avian veterinarian for help with this chore. Some pet stores offer free claw and bill trimming to their customers.

Excessive Growth of the Beak:
Periodically thin splinters will chip off the tip of a parakeet's beak. This is a normal part of the renewal of the beak's tissue. But in older parakeets, for reasons as yet unknown, the beak sometimes grows too fast in spite of frequent whetting. Usually only the upper mandible is affected, but more rarely the upper and lower mandibles cross each other because they both grow too long simultaneously. In either case the bird is hampered in its intake of food. If nothing were done to help, eating would eventually become impossible, and the excessively long beak would injure the skin of the crop region. Don't let things get that far. The best thing to do is to take the bird to an experienced avian veterinarian, breeder, or pet dealer to have the beak trimmed with proper (nail) clippers. If the bird has a predisposition for excessive beak growth, regular trimming may be necessary, sometimes as often as every four weeks. Competent bird owners can quickly learn to perform this duty themselves and dispense with the trips to, the veterinarian. If in spite of all your caution the trimming should result in minor bleeding, apply styptic cotton to the beak until the blood stops. If the beak is very brittle, dab it with slightly warmed glycerine or olive oil before wielding the clippers.

Overgrown beaks are well known among adult like adult parrot-like birds. Most develop because of an incomplete diet. Lack of minerals as found in green food and suitable grit, combined with a vitamin and protein deficiency are usually to blame. Prolonged periods of diarrhoea can result in an overgrown beak by washing out necessary food elements and beneficial bacteria, although this is uncommon.

Cure consists of proper care and feeding. In some cases birds respond well to a balanced diet, in other cases overgrowing of the beak persists and must be constantly trimmed. If neglected, eating will become more and more difficult, the bird will lose weight and finally contract some infection and die or starve to death. Sometimes, if given a piece of wood to bite on, the bird breaks off the extra length of beak but in most cases it is necessary to trim back the beak regularly. A budgerigar should be taken in the left hand, his head steadied by placing the thumb and forefinger against the cheeks, then the long tip of the beak should be cut with strong nail scissors and the sides trimmed. Some people may prefer nail clippers It is important not to cut the beak shorter than its normal length or the live part will be injured and cause bleeding. It has happened that even after shortening the beak to its normal length, the bird could not shell hard seeds, picking out only the soft oats. On examining such a bird, I found the inside of the upper beak thickened by surplus growth. Not until this wars scraped out with the tip of nail scissors, was the bird able to shell hard seeds. If it is noticed that the bird cannot eat properly and becomes weak, he should be given soft food such as bread soaked in milk and squeezed dry, and seeds soaked in water overnight. This will maintain his strength until the beak can be cut and, if necessary, the inside of the upper beak scraped. Bread and soaked seeds should only be used as an emergency treatment, as a steady diet neither should be fed as they are deficient in proteins. If an excess of calcium and phosphorus such as is found in bone meal is forced on a bird, overgrown beaks may result.

There are also scissors bills, undershot bills, unevenly developed bills or beaks, horny growths on beaks, etc. In some cases part of the beak is missing altogether. Lack of necessary food elements in the diet is the most common cause hereditary dispositions come next. Birds of the parrot family are more prone to develop beak abnormalities than other cage birds. But budgies can get this also. Where malformed beaks are discovered on young in the nest it is best to destroy such birds. Washing the beaks to remove caked food and trimming may save some birds while still in the nest, if the diet can be corrected immediately. Deformed beaks are only one sign of something wrong with the development of the bird. Dietary factors from the parents can also lead to some beak deformities in baby birds.


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PostSubject: Scaly Face/Mycosis Scaly Leg/Tassel Foot   Sat Mar 14, 2009 3:58 pm

Scaly-face or Mycosis of the Beak:
This first shows up as a spotty, greyish-white film on the upper mandible, starting at the corners of the beak and spreading sometimes to the ceres, the rims of the eyes, the legs, and the vent. Possible cause: This disorder is caused by the tiny burrowing mite Cnemidocoptes pilae, which is present in passive form from nestling days and months or even years later can seriously affect a bird weakened by stress or other negative influences. The mite burrows into the horny tissue of the beak or into the epidermis and feeds on skin particles and lymph. Sievelike tunnels destroy the skin, and the horny growths that appear are the bird's defense mechanism. The greyish film that shows up first can harden like scales and form welts and protrusions. In the initial stages this disorder bothers a parakeet very little, and it rarely spreads to other birds. Often the hardened growths fall off by themselves and they are not necessarily followed by other symptoms.

Measures to take:
Since Mycosis of the beak usually affects parakeets with temporarily weakened resistance, the birds general state of health should be watched. Give the highest quality food and add a multivitamin solution to the drinking water. Greens (vegetables) are recommended for the birds health also. The visible film and growths should be gently dabbed with an antidote, but never with an oily contact insecticide, which could enter the circulatory system through the skin and be fatal. Many veterinarians recommend special ointments. In minor cases balsam of Peru, Parrafin Oil, mineral oil or baby oil or Benzyl Benzoate or Dettol disinfectant may be effective. Dab the effected spots with a Q-tip three times a day for three days, then twice a day every other day for up to 3 weeks. Make sure that none of the medication gets near the eyes, nostrils or mouth. If the feet are effected, promptly remove the band if possible, because the legs tend to swell, causing the band to cut off circulation. This disease is also contagious to other birds in the nest or aviary. Some say the oils is the best remedy but we use Dettol with good success if caught early. The oil should soften the scaly part which may fall off and then a good disinfectant like Dettol can be used.

Cure or Prevention:
A cure for a severe mite problem is IVERTMECTIN available at most vets or some pet supply stores. Dettol disinfectant full strength can be used for mild cases of mites on the legs and cere and for disinfecting cage utensils. Dab it on using a q-tip. Never put Dettol near or in the eyes or ears. Some oils such as mineral oil or baby oil can also be used as the oil will kill the mites and soften the skin. In time the dry crusty area will come off. Dettol is best as it is an oily disinfectant to prevent infection, while the oil kills the mites and softens the dry tissue so it can fall off in time.

The only way to prevent mites from re-occurring if they do, is to disinfect the entire cage, food utensils, toys, etc. If more than one bird is present you must treat them all even if only one seems affected. Some pet shops carry items you can hang in the cage that is supposed to get rid of mites but we have never tried these and doubt their effectiveness. Dettol is also a good disinfectant to clean the cage and dishes. Perches and toys should be boiled or soaked in bleach and rinsed clean with fresh water and let dry before placing back in cage.

Scaly Leg or Tassel Foot
Scaly leg is caused by mites and the skin protrusions and large scales are the end result. The skin growth is usually from a prolonged or after affect of the mites even after they may have disappeared. The protrusions may be caused by the mites damaging the circulation of the leg causing the abnormal skin growth. You may only seed dry flaky scales on the skin or tiny red spots where the mites are burrowing into the fleshy skin. The scales are the residue of the mites burrowing. Long tassel-like projections are found growing from the foot of infected canaries. In the budgie, rough pale-colored crusts are seen on the feet, as well as on the face.

Treatment for scaly leg is the same as scaly face above. You can use Dettol disinfectant, mineral oil, baby oil, Ivermectin or an acaricide (mite control) purchased from a vet or pet store.


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PostSubject: Candida/Thrush/Crop/Yeast (Fungal Infection)   Sat Mar 14, 2009 3:59 pm

CANDIDA, THRUSH, YEAST or CROP infection:

Candida are colonies of single, oval cells which bud and in some circumstances develop into chains or hyphae. They most frequently attack the epithelium of the crop. The infection can be induced by prolonged use of antibiotics, such as the tetracyclines, in the drinking water. NYSTATIN or MYCOSTATIN (different brand names) are mainly used today. Some breeders have found that one tablespoon of Epson Salts in a cup of drinking water for 2 or 3 days does the trick but only in mild cases. For more information of digestive problems including crop problems see the Digestive System and scroll down to read "THE OESOPHAGUS & CROP".

CLINICAL SIGNS: The chief signs of infection of the alimentary tract are unthriftiness, listlessness and a bedraggled appearance, young birds being most prone to the disease. Patches of raised, whitish, dead epithelial material are occasionally seen in the mouth and these can easily be scraped off the mucous membrane. In this situation the lesions may affect the breathing. The crop and oesophagus are the main sites of the lesions. Less frequently, the epithelium of the proventriculus is affected and sometimes the yeasts are found in the intestinal tract. Occasionally regurgitation of food and loose droppings may occur. Diarrhoea is more likely to result from some concurrent gut infection and vomiting is more likely to be associated with unsuitable food, gut obstruction or bacterial, parasitic infestation of the alimentary tract. Pox infection may be confused with candidiasis in pigeons, but laboratory identification of the fungus will clinch the diagnosis.

TREATMENT AND PREVENTION: Prevention is largely a matter of good hygiene and management. Stale food, dirty premises, overcrowding and allowing water to slop over food or litter, all contribute to the build-up of an epidemic in young stock. In well-kept premises, however, the infection should never be a serious worry. Few treatments have appreciable effect, although powdered nystatin, or mycostatin by mouth or copper sulphate in the drinking water or Epson salts have sometimes appeared to be effective. Dimetridazole also appears helpful especially in pigeons, probably because it prevents secondary infection by trichomonads. It is possible that certain nutritional deficiencies, especially of the vitamin B complex, may be predisposing causes of the disease.

The yeast or sour crop infection (fungus disease) can usually be caused by stale/moldy food, dirty premises, overcrowding and allowing water to slop over food or litter. Unsanitary housing conditions is the main cause of this disease and cleanliness is the main preventative. Birds with this disease usually look sick and listlessness and diarrhea is often present. Moldy growths in corners of cages and under drinking containers should not be tolerated. This disease can be introduced by already infected birds or moldy foods. It is possible that lack of the vitamin B complex may be predisposing causes of these diseases but has not been fully proven.


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PostSubject: Soft/Clear/Broken Eggs   Sat Mar 14, 2009 4:01 pm

EGG HATCHING PROBLEMS

Soft Shell Eggs:
The failure of a hen to surround the egg with a hard shell has been ascribed to two causes. Either the bird did not receive a sufficient amount of lime or calcium or she is suffering from tumours or malformation of the glands which secrete the material for the egg shell. The egg may be surrounded by a skin only and may be laid in this condition. Such an egg is often dropped on the cage floor instead of to the nest, because the hen has no control over holding an egg without a shell. Soft shell eggs frequently cause egg binding, the muscles not being able to grasp the egg in order to expel it. If mild heat or warm (not hot) steam treatment does not help, the egg must be punctured carefully by a vet or a person who really knows what he/she is doing. Some eggs are surrounded by a very thin shell which soon breaks during incubation. Prevention consists in feeding birds plenty of grit rich in calcium or cuttlebone and an abundant amount of greens all year round. Constitutional or anatomical defects causing soft shell eggs are incurable.

Clear/Infertile Eggs:
There are a number of different cause for infertile eggs. The male may be sterile or the hen may have laid too early, before fertilization took place. A very common cause is a loose perch. A perch which rotates or is unsteady will interfere with the mating act. Sometimes the first clutch of eggs is sterile but the second clutch is fertile. If both clutches are infertile, the pair should be separated, rested, and then given different mates. It will then become clear which bird is at fault If eggs in many different nests are found sterile, the fault does not lie with the individual birds, but with the feeding. This deficiency may either be a temporary one or may have caused permanent damage to the reproductive organs. Birds raised on a poor diet are worthless as breeders. An unfortunately frequent occurrence is that all nests have fertile eggs at the beginning of the breeding season, but toward the end almost all nests show clear eggs. The fault here, in most cases, lies in the diet. The natural reserves of the breeding bird are exhausted. The seeds should immediately be given attention. Other causes for sterility are un-favorable conditions causing ill health, such as colds, infectious diseases, over-breeding, injudicious treatment with sulfa drugs, too long hours of artificial light, wrong management, etc. Breeding operations should be stopped for the season. In budgies it is not necessary to pluck the feathers near the vent. The feeding of wheat germ oil is not as effective in birds as it in mammals. When seeds are beginning to become stale, vitamin E may be diminished and a part of the seeds may be treated with wheat germ oil, allowed to stand overnight, then mixed with twice the quantity of cod-liver oil treated seeds. Wheat germ oil and cod-liver oil should not be mixed. Lack of vitamin A, protein, fatty acids, riboflavin, biotin, and the amino acid tryptophane have been found to be factors in producing sterility. Many breeders feeding an all-around good diet, never add wheat germ oil and do not complain about sterility in their birds. During incubation of a clutch of eggs, one egg is often pushed aside. This egg, in most cases, is an empty or clear one. Guesses have been made as to why the hen pushes an empty egg to the side, even if the clutch is small and she could easily cover it along with the good eggs. One suggestion is that an empty egg cools its surroundings. Eggs containing growing embryos give off some heat, while an empty egg does not.

Broken Eggs:
Eggs will break when the shell is too thin. Something may frighten setting hens into leaving the nest so abruptly as to cause egg breakage. An egg dropped in a flight cage with other birds around will often be pecked at. In the poultry yard egg-eating by the birds is well known. Mineral and protein deficiencies have been blamed. Broken eggs are said to start the habit. As a preventive it is recommended that enough lime be fed to avert the appearance of soft shell and thin shell eggs.

Dead In Shell:
There are many different causes of death of embryos in the egg. If embryos of our cage birds were not so small, we could examine them for possible causes. Deformities are often present. Such impairment of growth may be due to deficiencies in the yolk which nourishes the embryo or to hereditary factors. Certain beak deformities have been found to be inherited. The embryo may be in the wrong position within the egg. Cooling of eggs is less often the cause than assumed. Normal embryos can stand much cooling before being injured. Milling around of eggs by young of the previous clutch is a common cause for the failure of eggs to hatch. Too much moisture in the air prevents the egg from breathing normally. An atmosphere which is too dry will dry out the egg and toughen the membrane within the shell and the hatching chick will not be able to pierce it. The homeland of our budgies, Australia, is a dry continent and it is perhaps not surprising that these birds do not prosper in an atmosphere which is too humid. If the hen feels the eggs need moistening, she will dampen her breast feathers on wet greens if such are supplied in her cage.

Soiled Eggs:
Eggs which show caked droppings of the birds on the shell will usually hatch. It is better not to wash them since the shell may break, or the washing may remove a natural coating on the shell which prevents germs from entering the egg. At times, however, the caked droppings are so thick that the young bird inside cannot break the shell with its egg-tooth. When the eggs are so heavily coated with droppings that the pores are sealed and bacteria can enter, the young bird may die long before hatching. Gentle washing in lukewarm water may be tried, but it is better to check on care and feeding of the parents to find the cause for the sticky droppings. Nests should be quite dry. An alert breeder who spots an egg with a live chick inside trying to hatch, may often successfully save the birds life by gently breaking the shell if he senses a problem. Some breeders refuse to help the chicks out assuming their must be something wrong with them. We have helped some out at times and found them to grow into healthy birds. Sometimes pulling a little bit of the shell off with tweezers is all that is required and the bird can do the rest.


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PostSubject: Diseases Tranmitted to Eggs   Sat Mar 14, 2009 4:02 pm

DISEASES TRANSMITTED TO EGGS

Early embryonic death, blood-ring, dead-in-shell.., these terms frustrate and confound aviculturists, novice and professional alike. The reasons that embryos die are many, and diagnosing the specific cause of death can prove elusive in some cases. The serious aviculturist, whether a hobbyist or one who makes her living from bird breeding, should work with an experienced avian veterinarian who can help with all facets of aviculture. Every egg that dies prior to hatching should be examined by an avian veterinarian who can perform an egg necropsy and any other tests to determine the cause of death.

Often, histopathology (microscopic examination of tissues) will prove diagnostic, if the embryo has recently died. Bacterial and fungal cultures, stains of egg membranes, viral isolation and DNA PCR probes for specific organisms may also help in diagnosing the cause of death. There are many infectious organisms that can be transferred from the hen to the egg that may cause the egg to die. In some cases, the infectious organism may infect the egg, yet the embryo may continue developing, and may even hatch, carrying the organism at hatch time. If an organism is passed from an infected hen directly into an egg, and then into the developing embryo, this is called vertical transmission. The term vertical transmission also describes the transmission of an infectious agent from a parent to an egg during fertilization, during egg development in the oviduct of the hen, or immediately after oviposition. Once the egg is laid, some infectious organisms can pass through the eggshell upon contact with contaminated feces, urates or bedding. This is also considered vertical transmission if infection occurs immediately after laying. Some organisms are transmitted from the ovary to the egg, and this is called transovarian transmission. Infectious organisms harbored in the oviduct can also be passed into the egg prior to the shell being formed. Some organisms infect eggs if contents from the cloaca contaminate the surface of the egg, and then penetrate the egg. The other method of transmitting infectious organisms is by horizontal transmission. Horizontal transmission can occur by preening, inhalation, copulation, insect or animal bites, ingestion, contact with contaminated equipment or fighting. It seems obvious that prior to the egg membranes and shell being applied to it, the egg would be susceptible to infection by numerous infectious organisms. Even though the eggshell appears solid, it contains microscopic pores that can allow liquids and small organisms into the egg. The pores allow the transfer of gasses, as well.

Bacterial Diseases
Chlamydia psittaci is a primitive bacteria that can be vertically transmitted from an infected hen through the egg to the embryo. Depending on the pathogenicity of the strain and the number of organisms that are passed into the egg, the embryo may die during incubation, or it may actually hatch as a baby bird with chlamydiosis. It should be noted that transovarian transmission of chlamydiosis has not yet been confirmed by researchers, so it may be that the eggs are contaminated with the organism by some other vertical method. One avicultural client of mine with over 100 pairs of large psittacines was having a problem with a pair of blue-and-gold macaws. They pulled all of the pair's eggs for artificial incubation. Several eggs in the incubator died about halfway through incubation. During the egg necropsies, I tested for chlamydiosis by sending in a swab for DNA PCR testing. I also tested the adult breeder pair for Chlamydia, using the University of Georgia tests, which included DNA PCR testing of the blood and DNA PCR testing of a choanal and cloacal swab. A latex agglutination titer, was run through the University of Miami as well. The eggs were positive for Chlamydia, as were the parent birds. I recommended that the breeders remove from the incubator those eggs from the blue & golds, and isolate them in a small incubator. There were five remaining eggs that were in the early stages of incubation. To increase hatchability of the potentially infected eggs, we began a course of egg injections, using injectable doxycycline, which is an excellent drug for chlamydiosis. The eggs, much to our surprise, continued to develop, and all five actually hatched on schedule. As soon as the eggs hatched, I instructed the owners to begin medicating the hatchlings with oral doxycycline, which would be continued for 45 days total. Because all baby birds receiving antibiotic therapy should also be prescribed antifungal medication to prevent infection with Candida sp., we also started the babies on a combination of oral nystatin suspension and fluconizole.

The babies were also prescribed avian lactobacillus and acidophilus to give them some normal, good bacterial flora. The five baby blue & gold’s all developed normally and weaned on schedule. Subsequent testing showed that these babies showed no signs of chlamydiosis. It should be noted that testing is not always 100 percent accurate, and although treatment is often curative, some birds may never completely clear the organism from their system, resulting in asymptomatic carriers. However, these macaws have thrived and all have remained healthy. Bacteria of the genus Salmonella can also cause embryos to die in the shell, or, if the egg is contaminated by a very small number of bacteria, Salmonella can cause weak-hatch babies that may die shortly after breaking out of the egg. The bacteria may cause yolk material to coagulate in the egg, dead embryos may show hemorrhagic streaks on the liver, and the spleen and kidneys may be congested.

Pinpoint areas of the liver may be necrotic. Inflammation of the pericardium may also be seen. Salmonella are motile bacteria that can penetrate the eggshell and are transmitted vertically. Culture of the infected embryo will prove diagnostic. Some Staphylococcus bacteria can kill embryos. The avian embryo can be resistant to some strains of staphylococci, but can be highly susceptible to other strains. Infected wounds on parent birds can infect eggs, as can staph infections found on the hands of aviculturists, if the egg comes in contact with lesions. Artificial incubators will grow staph readily, and it can spread horizontally in this manner. An embryo can die within 48 hours of exposure to some strains of staph, especially Staph, Aureus. The older the embryo is at the time of the first exposure to staph, the less chance of embryonic mortality. Hemorrhages may be found on various internal organs. A laying hen can develop an ovary infected with Staph, Faecalis, which can contaminate the forming egg. Contaminated eggs will have up to 50 percent mortality. Culturing the egg is important for diagnosis. E. coil is a common bacteria normally found in the gastrointestinal (Gl) tract of mammals, and some birds as well.

It can enter the egg from an infected reproductive tract of a hen. E. coil can also penetrate the eggshell if the egg is contaminated with fecal material. E. coli commonly produces yolk sac infection, causing the yolk sac contents to appear a watery yellow-green or yellow-brown. Dirty nests and cages serve as sources of egg contamination. The use of water bottles may reduce the amount of E. coil that builds up in the Gl tract of birds. In my experience, aviaries that use a watering system, as opposed to water bowls, have fewer problems with subclinical bacterial infections in their breeder birds and their off-spring, Many embryos infected with E. coil die late in incubation or shortly after hatching. If an E. coil infection is acquired during incubation, the hatchling may develop an umbilical and yolk sac infection (omphalitis) and may have poor weight gain. Cracked eggs are more easily infected and may serve as a source of infection for other eggs in the incubator. Cracked eggs should be repaired as soon as the damage is discovered, or they should be discarded.

Mycoplasma
Mycoplamatales are one order of microscopic organisms that replicate by binary fission. They have no cell wall, but have a three-layer membrane. They are more primitive than bacteria, and must live and grow inside the host. They live only for a short time. Although we have much to learn about mycoplasmas, they can be involved in problems with Cockatiel conjunctivitis and respiratory infections, as well as respiratory/eye problems in other species of pet and breeder birds. The organism is spread by the respiratory excretions and by the gonads of both sexes, and infection in the air sacs may lead to contact transmission of the ovary and developing follicle. Transovarian transmission can occur. Mycoplasma can spread to the egg from an infected oviduct or from the semen of infected male birds. It is possible to treat eggs infected with Mycoplasma infections. Tylosin is injected into the air cell at the start of incubation. A combination of lincomycin and spectinomycin is also effective for egg injection. Dipping the eggs in antibiotic solutions reduces the incidence of disease; however, I personally, have never used this method. A third treatment that has been useful in breaking the transmission cycle of Mycoplasma gallisepicum and M. synoviae involves elevating the temperature in a forced-air incubator to 46 degrees Celsius for 12 to 14 hours before incubating the eggs normally. This technique inactivates the Mycoplasma organisms, but it will reduce the hatchability by 8 to 12 percent.

Viral Diseases
Several important viral diseases are vertically transmitted in birds. Psittacine beak and feather disease (PBFD) has been demonstrated to be vertically transmitted, since the virus is found in the blood of infected birds. It has been shown that artificially incubated baby birds from PBFD-infected hens will consistently develop PBFD. So, attempting to control PBFD by pulling eggs for artificial incubation is futile. Avian paramyxovirus 1 (Newcastle's Disease or PMV 1) is one of a group of nine distinct serovars (with several more yet to be characterized) of the virus that is dangerous to birds. Although paramyxovirus is theoretically vertically transmissible, this mode of transmission is considered unlikely because infected hens will generally stop laying eggs when they are viremic. Eggs contaminated by virus-laden feces immediately after laying can contaminate an incubator, and serve as a source of virus for recently hatched neonates. Herpesviruses, most of which are quite species-specific, include Pacheco's disease virus, Amazon tracheitis virus, respiratory disease in Neophema sp. and Psittacula sp., wart-like or flat plaque-like lesions on the skin of psittacine birds, budgerigar herpesvirus, pigeon herpesvirus (infectious to budgies and cockatiels), falcon herpesvirus (infectious to budgies and Amazon parrots), and Marek's disease (suggestive lesions in budgies). It has been theorized that some hens latently infected with Pacheco's disease can pass the virus (and antibodies to the virus) to their eggs. The resulting neonates would be latently infected carriers that might not develop detectable levels of antibodies. Herpesvirus of European budgerigars causes feather abnormalities (referred to as "feather dusters") and is thought to be egg transmitted. It has been demonstrated in dead-in-shell embryos and is considered a major cause of early embryonic death in affected flocks, resulting in decreased egg hatchability. Proventricular Dilatation Disease (PDD) is an enigmatic disease that is being diagnosed with increased frequency. Although we have much to learn about this disease, my personal experience indicates that PDD may be vertically transmitted. I am working with an aviary that has a pair of severe macaws whose eggs were taken for artificial incubation because the parents often damaged the eggs after they were laid.

The eggs were placed in a new incubator, and the babies were the only ones in the nursery during hand-feeding. The owner had problems with the babies from day one, as the crops were slow to empty, and they did not gain weight properly. The babies had to be given antibiotics, anti-fungals and motility enhancers (cisapride) to get them to digest their food at all. One baby died at six weeks of age, and histopathology showed all the classic PDD lesions. The second baby died shortly after weaning, and, once again, histopath confirmed PDD. Histopathological examination of tissues from a dead bird (especially the proventriculus, ventriculus, crop, small intestines, and brain) is the only way to confirm PDD in a dead bird as, grossly, many diseases can look like PDD. Dr. Branson Ritchie at the University of Georgia is currently developing PDD tests, and when they are available, we hope to test the parent birds of these two babies. At this time, barium radiographs may render a presumptive diagnosis, and the biopsy of areas of the gastrointestinal tract may prove diagnostic if positive. Once the new testing becomes available, it will be easier to screen for this terrible disease. Some adenoviruses, REO viruses and reticuloendotheliosis viruses can be vertically transmitted. Influenza A may be vertically transmitted, as well.

Parasites
Oddly enough, some parasites have been documented to occur within eggs. Adult ascarids (roundworms) have been found within eggs. These worms get into the egg by moving from the cloaca up into the oviduct, where the eggshell is then formed around the aberrant parasite. The fluke, Prosthogonimus ovatus can be found in the oviduct of Galliformes and Anseriformes, and may also be trapped within an egg, but the flukes are more likely to result in abnormal eggshell formation.

Conclusions
As our knowledge of avian medicine and theriogenology grows, we may discover other organisms that can be vertically transmitted. With the information that is available today, it may be possible to save some eggs that have acquired an infectious agent. Egg injections are routinely performed in my practice, and this has greatly increased the hatchability of infected eggs. By testing for infectious organisms, it is possible to cull eggs, as in the case of PBFD persistently infected birds, or treat the parents, as in the case of many bacterial or chlamydial infections. The result is healthier baby birds.


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PostSubject: Fractures/Breaks/Splayed Legs   Sat Mar 14, 2009 4:03 pm

SPLAYED LEGS IN YOUR CHICKS
This is sometimes caused by a vitamin deficiency but is usually caused by the hen laying on the babies too heavily. It can also by caused by a too slippery a surface as the chicks get older and cannot get a good foothold and keep slipping and harm their leg muscles and or tendons. You can try and prevent this by placing something in the nest box such as wood shavings to help cushion the mothers weight from the babies but sometimes the hen just removes this. If you kept putting it in she may decide to leave it alone. Some people place a plastic egg or two in the nest box to help cushion the hens weight from the babies. If you notice this has already happened you can try and tape the legs together lightly or use a piece of string above the knees for a day or two and hope this helps. You should only do this if the parents will still feed it or you can hand feed it.

FRACTURES & BREAKS (Skeleton picture at bottom)

A fractured leg is usually flexed and held up by the bird; as healing progresses it is gradually lowered onto the perch. Crash landings or panicky flight can often produce fractures of the clavicle or wishbone and the air sacs in this region may be torn in the process. Less frequently, fracture of the skull may occur and this results in concussion which causes in-coordination of the limbs, loss of balance and a dazed appearance. If bleeding occurs into the cranium, death may follow quickly or be delayed for a few hours, depending upon its severity. Fractures of the neck, other areas of the spinal column and bones of the pelvic region are less common. If birds are kept on a wire floor, their legs may become fractured or even amputated should a bird get caught up while in panic.

It is noted here that some breeders have found that splints have been picked off causing more pain and have caused the bird to stop eating and perish. Some prefer just to keep the bird quiet as possible and allow any broken limbs to knit themselves. It may not heal in the proper position but this is preferable to causing additional distress. Remove any high perches and just leave the lower ones in. The bird may soon perch and a leg may heal in a more natural position.

The most common fractures are those of the leg and especially of the tibiotarsus. Fractures of the tarsometatarsus are much less frequent. Both are easy to recognize if the bird is held and examined carefully. A crackling sound or grinding sensation can be located at the site of the fracture when the limb is moved. Abnormal angling of the leg may often occur and, if it is freshly broken, there is exceptional and uncontrolled mobility. A fracture of the femur shows these signs less distinctly because the bone is more protected by muscle. In all fractures, some inflammation occurs and this results in the production of heat due to increased blood supply and loss or impaired use of the limb. Fractured toes or phalanges are often not noticed until the bone heals, usually crookedly; by this time it is too late to treat the deformity satisfactorily. Particularly difficult fractures to treat are those involving the joints. Sometimes it may not be possible to determine without an x-ray examination if the fracture is associated with dislocation. In skilled hands, however, a simple dislocation can sometimes be corrected by slipping the bone back into position under general anesthesia. Wing fractures are less common than those of the legs. In the wild state, a fractured wing usually results in the bird's death from starvation if it lives long enough to escape the attention of a predator.

To release a bird just after nursing it through the healing period of a fractured wing is about as kind as letting a lame fox free in front of a pack of foxhounds! Wing fractures most frequently affect the humerus, ulna and radius, and here they produce the greatest deformity and loss of function of the wing. Although the wrist bones and those beyond, bear the bulk of the flight feathers, limited flying is often still possible even if these bones are quite badly damaged. A fractured wing is usually held low, most noticeably at its tip. Severe fractures to the humerus with angulation at the site of damage sometimes allow the carpal region to drop, but the wing tip to be raised. In all cases of wing fractures, however, diagnosis is relatively simple due to the unusual mobility of the wing, its limpness, an unusual crossing of the wing tips, and any of the other signs already mentioned with fractures of the leg. A word of warning is necessary because certain tumors of bone origin can cause weakness of the shafts of the long bones, cause proliferation of abnormal bone and show signs similar to those of fractures. The main difference is that the swelling is larger than that associated with a simple fracture, the skin shows no sign of damage, and mobility at the level of the swelling may not be accompanied by pain. Sometimes nutritional diseases such as osteomalacia result in fractures of limb bones; in such cases the overlying skin may not show signs of damage. Fractures or dislocations of joint surfaces are more difficult to diagnose because arthritis, gout and perosis (slipped gastrocnemius tendon) can show similar signs--evidence of pain and creaking or grinding sounds in the joints. The joints may also be swollen and lameness is nearly always present. Bone usually heals quite rapidly, but the rate varies with the bone, somewhat with the species, and particularly the size of the bird.

Those bones which are hollow since they contain part of the air sac instead of marrow, heal slowly because of the limited blood supply. The bones of small, passerine birds tend to heal more quickly than those of the larger species where the muscles exert more tension. If the two ends of the broken bone are brought closely together and kept in place, healing is usually rapid. If a gap is left or if there is an overlap, or if muscle lies between the fragments, healing is very slow or may not occur, especially where movement of the bones is possible. When the blood vessels are badly bruised or severed, not only may no bone be formed but it may actually be absorbed; the limb beyond the injury may also die. This is known as necrosis or death of tissue: infection hastens necrosis and if bacteria enter, gangrene may follow.

Fractures where the overlying skin is ruptured are known as "compound". Where the skin is intact the fractures are referred to as "simple", whether the bone is merely cracked in two or a dozen pieces. In the latter case, however, it is also called "comminuted". Several other types of fracture occur in the simple and compound groups. A fractured leg is usually flexed and held up by the bird; as healing progresses it is gradually lowered onto the perch. Often, however, the foot is loosely clenched, the forward and backward pointing toes crossed and the muscles and tendons become set in an abnormal position during healing of the bone. If correct treatment is not given, the leg may remain permanently deformed. In cases of this type there may also be arthritis or damage to the nerves of the leg. As with any serious wound, bathing with a 5 per cent sterile solution of common salt in water cleanses the tissues and helps to remove infection where the skin is broken. Antibiotics or sulphonamides should be given in these cases by mouth or by injection under the skin or into the thigh or breast muscle. The simplest and often the most effective treatment of the actual fracture is to do nothing. The bird should be separated from its companions to prevent persecution and cannibalism and protection from its own frantic fluttering. A smooth-walled box with perches at floor level is best for wing and leg fractures. Wire netting should not be used except as a lid, because this material encourages attempts to climb. So far we have dealt with the more straightforward leg fractures with fragments in contact. Marked inequality in length between each leg suggests over riding of the bones in the shorter limb. Repositioning the bones in these bad cases is painful, but the fragments must be brought as close as possible to their original position. Unless the manipulation can be easily and rapidly carried out, anesthesia is necessary: inhalation of ether being satisfactory, using 1-2 ml., on cotton wool in a suitable sized cardboard funnel or mask.

Repositioning generally consists of stretching the affected leg to the length of the normal one then squeezing the fragments until they appear as one and in a straight line when felt through the layers of skin and muscle. Splints for small birds may be made by padding a split portion of feather quill taken from a larger species or a toothpick cut to size. For larger birds, a splint is applied over the injured area and fastened with ½ in. zinc oxide adhesive plaster strips down to and including the toes. The foot should be fixed in the fully open position with the knee and hock joints half flexed. Alternatively, match sticks, cardboard strips or wire can be used as a splint. Care must be taken in all cases to avoid chafing by the splints. Plaster of Paris casts are too heavy and too cumbersome for any but the largest species. They are extremely difficult to remove safely, and in the experience of the author, seem to encourage chewing of the feet when used for parrots, whether or not the feet are included in the plaster. In some birds a badly healed fracture or a piece of bone projecting from a wound may require an operation by a veterinarian before the bird can use the leg again. The setting of wing fractures is particularly difficult because the position of the wing at rest is in a bent or flexed position. Pulling on the end of the wing in the case of overlapping or twisted fragments, therefore, separates rather than replaces the fractured bones. Even when they can be repositioned correctly, external splintings give little real support. The best that can usually be achieved is to bring the fractured ends as nearly as possible into contact and be content with a reasonable alignment of the bones with the wing in the flexed position. This should be done under general anesthesia.

The tips of each wing, and preferably also the roots of the tail quills, are then fixed to each other with adhesive tape. A second circle of sticky tape around the front of the breast and encircling the shoulder joints prevents movement of the wings, dislodging the fracture and wing tip anchorage. According to the size and strength of the bird, a third circle of tape may be advisable between the first and second, its width depending also on the size of the patient. The third circle of tape must not be tight or it will restrict breathing. The dressings should be carefully removed after 7 to 28 days, depending upon the circumstances and activity of the bird.

Some success has been reported using internal stainless metal pins in fractures of the humerus, ulna and radius, femur, tibio-tarsus and even tarso-metatarsus, but this type of surgery is the province of the specialist veterinarian, and the methods are usually applicable only to larger birds. For fractures involving the elbow, carpus and hock, compression plates of molded aluminum or plastic have been found very effective in immobilizing these vulnerable areas. They should be made specially for the purpose, suitably padded and held in place by thread through holes in the edges.

Fractures of the wings of small birds cannot be set for several reasons: first, human fingers are too large and clumsy to work with such small bones with any chance of success; second, the resentment of these little creatures against any form of restraint is so great that it is usually impossible to even make an examination of a broken wing without the struggles of the bird aggravating the injury; third, there is no way of affixing a splint or cast to the wing of a small bird without doing more harm than good. The best course to follow is to place the bird in a cage from which the high perches have been removed and observe the droop of the injured member. If the wing hangs in a graceful droop, as it would if the bird drooped it intentionally, place food and water within easy reach of the little bird and go on about your business; feed and water at night for the next ten days, so that the bird will not at any time be disturbed or frightened into attempting to use the injured wing. At the end of that period the injury will be healed, . and there is a good chance that the bird will not be crippled. If the wing hangs at an awkward, abnormal angle, it must be folded against the bird's side in as natural a position as possible, and then held in place by passing a narrow strip of adhesive tape twice around the body in such a manner as to leave other wing free. Some breeders have reported good results from fastening the ends of the two wings together with string or a letter clip. This might work all right with larger, heavier birds, but I have found that the small flying birds will fight this form of restraint until the injured wing is damaged beyond repair. In practically all cases where restraint is necessary the bird will be crippled; often, however, they will be able to fly good enough to take care of themselves. I have known some of these broken-winged birds to make wonderful breeders.

We have not tried it, but some have had success by just taping the wing to the birds side for 2 to 3 weeks. (sample picture below) Run the tape over the wing keeping it to the birds side and go under the other wing so it can still move it. The only problem is you may not know if the wing is in the correct position or not to heal and the bird may try and chew the tape off.

Leg fractures located in the femur or tibia cannot be set, since the two upper divisions of the leg are enclosed by the skin of the side. Fractures of the metatarsus can be set and held in place by placing the shank in a tube made from metal foil or stiff paper. The tube must be left loose enough so that the swelling which occurs as part of the healing process will not stop the circulation in the foot, for, should that happen for only a very short time, the foot will be lost. I have found that regardless of the location of the break, a foot sling is one of the best ways of preventing the bird from being crippled. A tube can keep the metatarsus straight, but it cannot keep the foot from being twisted to the right or left, but by means of the foot sling, the foot can be held in the natural, normal position, and the bones will usually fall into their normal position and heal without difficulty. Sometimes it is necessary to make a loop around the bird's foot to keep him from taking it out of the sling. In affixing the sling the wings must be left free-otherwise the bird will be unable to get around and take care of himself. With the wings free, however, he will have little difficulty, even in a large flight. Broken toes often result from permitting the claws to get too long or from keeping the birds in flights screened with fine-mesh wire cloth. The nails hang in the wire, and when the bird struggles to free himself, a toe is broken. Such injuries go undiscovered at the time and heal without treatment. Crippling of one of the front toes is not serious because it does not cause the bird to lose the use of the foot; injuries to one of the back toes, however, often causes the back claw to become stiff. When this happens to a female her usefulness in the breeding room is over. Her eggs will always be infertile because her foot is certain to slip at the critical moment. The situation is almost as bad when it is a male with a crippled back claw. He can no longer grasp the hen's wing with that foot to mate. Anyone who is unsure of what they are doing should never attempt to fix or repair a broken wing, leg or toes without a vets help.


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PostSubject: Re: Signs of Illness for Birds   Tue Feb 09, 2010 2:40 pm

Another Informative Topic sir Tattoo! galing nyo po talaga!! thumbs up thumbs up thumbs up
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PostSubject: Re: Signs of Illness for Birds   

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