|handles my baby tests. He is not a certified avian vet
but does the
testing and works closely with Sam and I hope some day to see him
certified. <G> The other things will follow.
New Bird In The House
So you bought a new bird. Whether this is to be an only bird or added to
an existing flock, you should take it to an Avian Vet. Quite often an
Avian Vet is not available and we have to rely on the knowledge of a
practicing veterinarian. The following is meant to give you a basis for an
Birds, unlike other animals, have a knack for hiding the fact that
they are sick. This is a form of preservation in the wild. A sick bird
soon becomes someone's dinner or in the case of chicks, does not get
dinner. Survival of the fittest. Keeping this in mind you need to be
watchful for any changes in appetite, water consumption, droppings,
appearance, etc. With birds, by the time they are sitting fluffed up,
quite often it is too late. Be alert and observant.
New Bird Exam
The purpose of a new bird exam is to rule out common problems and
diseases that would make the new bird a poor pet as far as health and
diseases and to protect other birds in the household, present or future,
from common contagious diseases.
The most commonly recommended basic tests and exams are as follows:
1) Physical examination
2) Fecal Parasite Check and examination of droppings
3) Fecal and Choanal Gram Stains
4) Chlamydia Testing
5) Polyoma Virus Testing
6) Psittacine Beak and Feather Disease Testing
7) Complete Blood Count
Blood chemistries (i.e., ALT) and total serum proteins are also
occasionally run at the discretion of the attending veterinarian. If
abnormalities are found in the above data base, further diagnostics such as
complete chemistry panel, culture and sensitivities, urinalysis, and
radiographs may also be performed.
Well Bird Exam
The well bird exam is used to confirm that the bird is free of any
problems. It is impossible to guarantee that a bird is free of all
diseases possible, but it is used to determine that the bird is displaying
no detectable physical or physiological evidence of disease and is in
reasonable good health.
The basic well bird exam consists of the following:
1) Physical examination
2) Choanal and Fecal Gram Stain
3) Fecal parasite check
Other ancillary tests may be performed at the discretion of the
attending veterinarian. Such as a Complete Blood Count, Serum Chemistries,
Reasons for different examinations and some of their uses:
1) Physical Exam - The physical exam is used to guide the veterinarian to
any part of the bird that may be diseased, injured, malformed or
malfunctioning. This is an extensive thorough procedure that can detect a
wide array of diseases and conditions in multiple body systems.
2) Fecal Parasite check - The fecal parasite check is used to rule out
infestation with intestinal parasites such as worms, coccidia and giardia.
3) Examination of droppings - Since the droppings are a combination of
urine and feces they serve as an indicator of both gastrointestinal and
4) Gram Stains - The Gram stain is used to detect gram-negative bacteria
and yeast. A vast number of birds are either ill because of gram-negative
bacteria or have become immunocompromised from other disease processes and
have become invaded by opportunistic organisms such as yeast or gram-
negative bacteria. Identification of such infections aids treatment and
recovery of the patient.
5) Complete Blood Count (CBC)- The complete blood count is a sensitive
indicator of the general health of any animal. The parameters routinely
examined include a total and differential white cell count (WBC),
hematacrit, red cell characteristics (RBC), Thrombocyte count, plasma
characteristics and the presence or absence of blood parasites. Changes in
many of these parameters are indicative of many different disease processes
and are often noted before any other sign of disease is present.
6) Chlamydia Testing - Testing for Chlamydia psittaci is used to determine
if the avian patients may be a carrier of 'psittacosis', 'ornithoris', or
'parrot fever', a disease that can be spread from bird to bird and bird to
man. This is a treatable condition.
7) Polyomavirus Testing - Polyomavirus causes budgerigar fledgling disease
(BFD) and can cause high mortality in aviary conditions amongst young
birds. Birds with this virus should not be exposed to other birds or bred
at all and often have a greatly shortened life span. There is no effective
treatment for this disease at this time.
8) Psittacine Beak & Feather Disease - Psittacine beak and feather disease
(PBFD) is a virus that can affect many organ systems at many stages in a
birds life. This disease can cause acute death, dystrophic malformed
feathers, immunosuppresion and oral lesions. Birds with this disease
usually have a greatly shortened life span and should not be bred or
exposed to other birds. There is no effective treatment of this disease at
The information on the New & Well Bird Exams was provided by Shannon McGee,
DVM at Collierville Animal Clinic, Collierville, TN.