For the public

Feather Loss and Circovirus Infection

Psittacine Circovirus (Psittacine Circoviral Disease or PCD) is a viral infection that is spread easily through feathers and feces.  It affects parrots and other psittacine birds and causes the loss of feathers, usually on the chest or thighs. In some birds, such as Eclectus, king parrots, and lorikeets, the early signs may be a change in color, with affected feathers showing streaks of white, yellow, or black. Cockatoos and parrots often show loss of the powder down first since powder down is replaced often; it may take a few molts to see changes in coverlets and other feathers. With time, the feather loss involves the wings and the rest of the body.  Early in the infection, feathers may grow in to replace the missing ones. These regrown feathers are abnormally-shaped and easily break at their bases.  As the infection progresses, new feathers do not grow and old ones are not replaced. Infected birds may show excessive abnormal growth of the beak and toenails.  The beak and nails curl in unusual shapes. The beak and nails may flake, crack, and develop soft areas that are weak and may break. Yeast and other infections may develop in cracks of the beak and nails. Beaks can become so severely affected that the bird can no longer feed on its own.

Common Problems in Parakeets

Mites: 

Parakeets that develop a thick scaley build-up on the beak and legs may be infected with a mite such as Knemidokoptes.  This parasite can cause permanent deformities to the beak if left untreated.  Treatment usually involves an antiparasitic drug such as ivermectin.  If your parakeet has an unusual appearance to its beak or feet, a veterinary examination is needed to determine the underlying cause.

Lorikeets: Low Iron Diets

Lorikeets, also known as lories, are able to extract almost all of the iron present in their food which leads to iron storage disease (hemochromatosis).  Life-threatening levels of iron build-up in the cells of liver and other organs, which leads to profound liver damage and organ failure.  Affected lories have difficulty breathing, a fluid-filled swollen belly, depression, paralysis, or may suddenly die.  Treatment of hemochromatosis includes phlebotomy

Sinus Infections in Birds

Birds have a very complicated sinus system (a part of the respiratory tract) with lots of interconnecting air pockets that can readily get infected.  Infections can start in one site and move through the sinus system to attack most areas of the skull. A severe infection means that many affected birds will die without treatment.

Scaly Skin in Birds

Scaley skin is a common problem in captive birds.  On the feet the skin may appear as a white powdery to flakey substance, or develop a thick build-up of dry yellow material.  On the body beneath the feathers you may see a spiderweb of dry skin, sometimes with patches of yellow or tan crusts.  Scaley skin can be caused by a variety of problems.  An imbalanced, particularly one that is low in vitamin A or ones that have an imbalance of

At Home Care for Sick Birds

When a bird is very ill, it is often recommended that a “hospital cage” be created at home to provide an optimal environment for recovery. It is best to have a designated cage for this before an illness occurs in order to be well prepared. Your veterinarian will make specific recommendations for you based on your individual birds problem but the following information is often adequate for most basic at home hospital cages.

Endoscopy for Avian Patients

Endoscopes are small "telescopes" that are used to have a look at the internal organs of an animal. Just as a veterinarian does a thorough physical examination of the outside of the body, the endoscope allows a veterinarian to do the same sort of examination of the bird's internal organs to assess their health.  This is extremely helpful to determine an underlying cause for many illnesses that elude detection through bloodwork and other routine diagnostic labwork.

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