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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.

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