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Judy Leach's Parrots
Breeder Specializing in Macaws, including Hyacinth Macaw


Most of the maladies that fit into this category are are caused by bacteria that are remedied by antibiotics, and, if treated in a timely manner, are not terminal. It must be understood that any illness, left untreated, can become a cause death. Birds tend to hide illness until it is almost to late to remedy a problem. You have to know your bird. If his droppings have become watery and have a strong odor. If he sits with his feathers ruffled for an abnormal amount of time or his appetite decreases, he most likely has a problem. Depend on a reputable avian vet for care and advise. Never take it upon yourself to diagnose an illness. Any medications or dosages described are meant to help veternarians in areas that are not familiar with avian medicine. Overmedication can be as harmful as the sickness. Only a fecal or mouth culture can be used to determine the correct medication for elimination of a bacteria. A high white cell count in the blood will indicate a bacterial infection.

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Psittacosis is one of the most serious of the bacterial infections. It is transmittable to other birds through feather dust and dried feces. It is also transmittable to humans. In humans, the symptoms are similar to pneumonia. If not properly diagnosed and treated with a Tetracycline drug, death may be the result. In parrots, it affects the liver. This causes the droppings to be a chartreuse color caused by the bile of the liver. Normally the disease itself will not cause death. It weakens the victim to other bacteria and diseases that will develop and eventually kill the host. Until recently, this disease required 45 days of medication with a twice daily dose of a Tetracycline drug. In recent years, an injectible has been developed that will remedy the disease with 1 injection every 5-7 days for the term of 45 days. This drug is Vibravenos at the strength of 20 mg/ml. The dosage is 75-100 mg/kg of body weight for macaws, and 25-50 mg/kg of body weight for all other parrots. The human remedy requires 7 days of medication with a Tetracycline drug. There is currently a test available that is conclusive, and positively identifies this bacteria in carriers, and in infected and exposed birds. Consult your avian veterinarian for details.

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This bacteria is not fatal if it is recognized and treated. It causes droppings to have the look of diarrhea and to have a strong odor. This bacteria can be remedied by mixing 1/8 tsp. of Vetisulid per 8 ounces of water for 10-14 days.

The E-coli bacteria is normal in human saliva. It can be transmitted to a parrot by "wet" kisses and by letting them eat out of your mouth. E-coli is also normal, and common, in the saliva of monkeys and dogs. Therefore, it is also found in dog food and some monkey biscuits. If this food is given to parrots, it should be microwaved for at least 15-30 seconds, depending on quantity, to kill E-coli bacteria, before feeding it to your birds.

Actually, it would be better to get your bird on to a good extruded pellet formulated for birds than a food that was developed for another type of animal.

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Gout is a calcification of the kidneys that is seen most commonly in Blue and Gold babies between the ages of 4-8 weeks.Gout There are many theories as to the possible cause of gout in baby parrots. It hasn't been found to be consistent in specific pairs or proven to be caused by a brand of formula. A breeder may lose a number of Blue and Gold babies one year and then lose none at all for a couple of years. One baby in a clutch of 3 may get it, and the others in the clutch will be fine. It is possible that some are more sensitive to an improper balance of calcium in a formula than others. Since gout is a diet related problem, I believe that it is caused by a formula that does not have a proper balance of calcium. Depending on the metabolism and sensitivity of each baby, all babies on the same formula may or may not show evidence of kidney damage. Those that develop gout will seldom survive.

The symptoms of this illness in the beginning stages are very difficult to identify and most often go unnoticed until it is too late to react to it. The first signs are slight dehydration and occasional regurgitating after feedings. GoutTo the observant feeder, the baby may appear slightly smaller, and the neck bone may seem to protrude more than usual. Picture #1 shows a normal baby on the left, and one that has the beginning symptoms of gout on the right. The muscle tissue in the chest and neck of the baby on the right have become dehydrated and the breastbone is beginning to protrude. A baby with a bacterial infection many show some of the same signs, but normally will not regurgitate all of its food. Blood test will show high levels of urates in the blood. Picture #2 clearly shows the plump look of a healthy chick. His face is full and eyes are bright and alert.

IGoutn picture #3 you can see the tight look of the dehydrated skin on the chest, the eyes are droopy looking, and the skin is reddened. The babies feet are also thin and dehydrated and he keeps them clenched. The skin on the crop is more transparent, and the veins are more visible. From this point, the baby will usually not live more than 24 hours.

As the illness progresses (picture #4), the Goutdehydration will become more obvious. The skin on the chest will become more wrinkled looking and the facial patch will look smaller and more wrinkled. The baby will begin to regurgitate everything in its crop and will not even keep fluids down. From the time that the symptoms are obvious enough to be sure that something is wrong, it is usually less that 24 hours before death. A necropsy will show that the kidneys are completely calcified.

As a preventative, baby Blue and Golds should be kept well hydrated to keep the kidneys flushed. When a 4-8 week old baby suddenly looks smaller, dehydrated, and starts regurgitating formula, gout may be a possible cause. I have found that adding more water to the feeding formula to flush the kidneys, and using Probenecid/Colchicine for the kidneys, and, Allopurinal to remove urates from the blood will sometimes save the baby if it is started in the very early stages.

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Runny Nose or Nasal Discharge

Very often evidence of a runny nose or nasal discharge is misinterpreted as a "cold". Although a parrot may get an air sac infection or congested lungs, this is not the same as a cold, and symptoms do not include a "runny" nose. The nostrils of a parrot are not attached to the trachea as ours are. A parrot's nostrils go to a slot shaped hole that may be seen in the roof of the mouth.

The most common causes of a nasal discharge are 1) a vitamin A deficiency, or, 2) a nasal infection. Vitamin A deficiencies are most commonly seen in Amazon parrots. This species of parrot is more prone to a Vitamin A deficiency than most others. This condition may be corrected by an injection of vitamin A, and by increasing the quantity of foods in the diet that are a high source of this vitamin. A well-balanced diet will prevent the problem from occurring.

A nasal infection may occur in any parrot species. It is caused most often by a foreign substance, such as food or baby formula, in the nasal passage that caused an infection. This condition may be corrected by flushing the nasal passage, and by using antibiotic nose drops such as genticin durafilm.

It is best to consult a veterinarian specializing in avian medicine, to determine the problem's cause and remedy.

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