Protozoa Eye Infection
by Ginger Wolnik

First published in the Pacific American Singer newsletter, volume 5, number 4, October 1998.

There is a trichomonas protozoa infection spreading through birds inCalifornia, including canaries. This is currently being researchedby Dr. Judy Saint Legend at the San Bernadino satellite of theUniversity of California Davis poultry lab.

The first symptom in the bird is an eye infection. This can spreadto the sinuses, which make one or both eyes appear to be swollen.The final stage is to spread to the brain, which kills the bird.Many birds are successful in battling this infection on their own, soit may go into remission for a while, only to erupt again the nextyear. This infection usually occurs in May, June and July.

Because trichomonas is a protozoa, it is useless to treat withantibiotics or anti-parasite drugs such as invermectin. Therecommended treatment is Flagyl. However, this drug can cause kidneydamage if given repeatedly or long-term. So, it is best to get aconfirmed diagnosis from a qualified avian vet and treat all possiblyinfected birds one time only.

Flagyl is available by perscription from a vet. However, you can goto the "fish" section of a pet store or aquarium shop and getFishzol, which is the same drug. The drug is effective by adding tothe drinking water. Mix six 250 milligram capsules per gallon ofwater (open the capsules and dump the powder in the water). Serve astheir only drinking water for 7 days. Then give plain water for 7days, then treat again with Fishzol for a final 7 days. Avoid givingthe birds greens when they are getting the treated water in order toencourage drinking the water. Afterwards, give the birds a treatmentof Baytril, which is available by prescription from a vet.

This infection can spread to people and cause a severe eye infection,so avoid fluid contact from infected birds with your eyes. It will notkill a human with a healthy immune system, but it can make one miserable.

It seems to spread by aquiring asymptomatic birds and adding them toyour aviary. They can seem healthy after a reasonable quarenteenperiod, then have an outbreak the following spring. They wipe theirfaces on perches and other birds get infected by wiping their faceson the same perches. There is no reason to believe that birdswithout symptoms could pass this to others in separate cages, so thisshould not be a problem at the bird shows.

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