Most of the predisposing causes of respiratory diseases in raptors relate back to husbandry. They are however the most common reason for a bird to be presented to us at the surgery.
As with many aspects of Raptors, health prevention of disease is optimal, but if not achieved, early identification of a problem is vital.
Daily checks should be carried out on all birds, including visual checks for:
- Nasal discharge, sneezing, staining of feathers around the nares.
- Head shaking, open mouth breathing
- Swelling around the eyes, ocular discharge
- Any signs of increased breathing rates or effort.
Common casual agents:
- Bacterial – pasteurella, chlamydia and mycoplasma species
- Viral – avian influenza
- Protozoal – trichomonas
- Fungal – Aspergillosis, candida, capillara.
The most common of all these is Aspergillosis.
Aspergillosis is found everywhere but infection occurs following higher exposure from mould, composts, or following stress/ immune –suppression in young birds in their first session.
The Fungus is not transmissible between birds.
Resulting infections are generally localized to either;
- Larynx/trachea – change or loss of voice, rasping breathing sounds, severe dyspnoea (difficulty in breathing)
- Air sacs – No change in respiratory noise, signs often chronic including weight loss incompetence, increased respiratory effort green mutes/urates.
- Lungs – often marked dyspnoea, prognosis sally guarded.
However some infection can be multi- focal, involving several areas and tissues. Deterioration in these cases is often rapid.
Information on chlamydial psittacosis, is available under psittacine birds. Of important note is that this is a disease that can be transferred to humans. Good hygiene and safety precautions should be implemented if handling birds with this condition.