International Gloster Breeders Association

Affiliated to

International-Ornithological-Association
National-Council-for-Aviculture-NCA

International Gloster Breeders Association

Affiliated to

International-Ornithological-Association
National-Council-for-Aviculture-NCA

International Gloster
Breeders Association

Common Canary and Finch Diseases

Common Canary and Finch Diseases

The following is a short list of some of the common problems seen in canaries and finches. It should always be remembered that management or environment flaws weaken the birds, predisposing them to disease. The provision of a clean, dry, draught-free aviary, together with good nutrition, will do much to decrease the incidence of disease.

ProblemDiseaseFurther SignsVet DiagnosticTreatment
1. Inside of nests stained with yellow diarrhoea of nestling, youngster stunted, increased death rate first few days of lifeE. coli diarrhoeaDroppings, microscopic examination ,staining and/or cultureAntibiotics. Neomycin. Sulfa AVS in water and soft foods (egg and biscuit, canary starter)
2. Pale, weak youngsters, hen can be found dead in nestBlood-sucking mitesCrusty pinpoint feeding sites visible, particularly under the wingsRecently dead or unwell nestlingsMoxidectin. Spray cages with Permethrin prior to breeding
3. Nestlings dying, 10 – 20 days of age, many youngsters affected and dyingCirco virusBlack spot visible in abdomen, which is an enlarged gall bladderSick or recently dead youngster for autopsy, tissue collection and histologyManagement – break in breeding, thorough clean of aviary, identify carrier birds
4. Nestlings dehydrated, weak with yellow diarrhoeaCochlosoma, a flagellate that lives in the digestive tract. Fresh birds infected through dropping contamination of food and waterIn finches fostered under Bengalese, which act as asymptomatic carriers. Problem most severe in chicks aged 10 days to 6 weeksFresh droppings for microscopic examinationRonidazole (Turbosole), 400 mg/kg of soft food and 400 mg/1 litre of water for 10 days. Organism does not survive in the environment

Juveniles less than 1 year old

ProblemDiseaseFurther SignVet DiagnosticTreatment
1. Generally unwell and dying birdsAtoxoplasma,( a type of coccidian)Birds usually 2 – 9 months, high mortality (up to 80%), blue spot (swollen liver) visible through abdomen wallA sick or recently dead bird for autopsy. Parasite eggs occasionally found in droppingsSulphonamide antibiotics, eg ‘Tribrissen’, interrupt the infective life cycle but does not affect the intracellular stages. It therefore reduces but does not eliminate egg shedding. Given for 5 days per week until the birds are well


2. Lethargy, weight loss, yellow (= amylum or undigested seed) dry droppings often containing undigested seed. High mortality rate in nestli

Camphylobacter, a bacterium spread by dropping contamination of food and water, carried by wild birds
Bengalese often act as asymptomatic carriers, Gouldian finches particularly vulnerableAppearance of bacteria (often curved rods) in droppings under the microscope suggestive, culture of droppings or autopsyAntibiotics, e.g. Erythromycin, Baytril
3. Generally unwell with some deathsPolyoma virusDebility and death in birds of all ages, including adults and nestlings but particularly juveniles. Surviving adults sometimes develop elongated beaksFresh bird for autopsy and pathology. PCR (DNA) test on blood or droppingsNo medication available. Controlled through altered breeding strategy and blood testing. A break in breeding enables many (approx. 85%) birds to develop a protective immunity in the absence of vulnerable juveniles. Cabinet breeding or blood testing identifies persistent carriers
4. Shortness of breath, coughing, diarrhoeaCryptosporidia, a coccidianDiamond Firetails may be particularly susceptible, exhibiting diarrhoea and deathAutopsyMedication (paromomycin) is available overseas but not in Australia. Wild birds can be source of infection. Infective eggs passed in droppings, therefore ongoing hygiene will decrease exposure
5. Diarrhoea and some deathsGiardia, a flagellateUsually young immunosuppressed birdsMicroscopic examination of fresh droppingsRonidazole (Turbosole), 3 g (1 tsp)/2 litres of water

Any Age

ProblemDiseaseFurther SignsVet DiagnosticTreatment
Main symptom respiratory distressAvian PoxCrusty wart-like lesions on non-feathered parts of body and/or yellow plaques inside mouth. Difficulty in breathing, high mortality rate.Appearance often diagnostic. Autopsy and histology (looking for bollinger bodies)Management. Separate birds, control insects, treat secondary diseases
MycoplasmaRed watery eyes, nasal discharge, shortness of breath, matting of feathers around eyesAppearance suggestive. Laboratory diagnosis can be difficultTylan or doxycycline either separately or together
Blood-sucking mitesPale and lethargic Crusty pinpoint feeding sites visible, particularly under the wingsPale and lethargic Crusty pinpoint feeding sites visible, particularly under the wingsMoxidectin. Spray cages with permethrin
Air sac mites (Sternostoma or Cytodites)Loss of condition, cough, sneeze, nasal discharge, unable to sing, response to treatment. Particularly common in GouldiansDead bird for autopsy, droppings, unwell live birdMoxidectin orally or spot on
Trichomoniasis (canker), a flagellateWeight loss, regurgitation, dried saliva around beakCrop flush from live birdRonidasole in drinking water, ‘Flagyl’ syrup trickled into throat in acute cases
Bacterial infection, e.g. Enterococcus faecalisRed watery eyes, nasal dischargeLive bird for bacterial culture from tracheaAntibiotics, antibiotic choice preferably based on the result of a culture and sensitivity, review hygiene
Aspergillus, a fungusWeight loss, shortness of breath. Usually low infection rate but virtually all unwell birds die. Often a history of stress +/- exposure to damp unhygienic conditionsDiagnosis sometimes possible in live birds through microscopic examination of droppings or a throat or sinus swab. Diagnosis usually made at autopsyMedication (usually itraconazole) available for individual birds of value. Identification and removal of source of fungus. Identify and correct any management or environment flaws
Egg bindingHoriizontal posture, hen in nest, egg overdue. Egg palpable in abdomenClinical examination, x-rayHeat (brooder approx. 30?0C) plus oral calcium initially. Veterinary intervention if no response. Ongoing provision of palatable calcium supplements before and during breeding will decrease likelihood of problem, as will delaying pairing until warm weather
Toxoplasma, a protozoan that infects cats. It is likely that infective eggs excreted in cats’ droppings get into the aviary.eg: through the provision of seeding grasses collected outside the aviaryMore so in canaries. Shortness of breath initially, with some surviving birds becoming blind several weeks laterAutopsy and pathologyTrimethoprim/sulphadiazine may be effective
Main symptom diarrhoea and weight lossAcuaria or gizzard worm, a parasitic wormEnlarged gizzard often palpable in abdomen. Undigsted seed in droppingsMicroscopic examination of droppings reveals the parasite’s eggs. At autopsy, the fine white worms are just visible below the koilin lining of the gizzardInsects act as intermediate host, therefore more of a problem in finches that are particularly insectivorous, e.g. Crimson Finch. Moxidectin is an effective wormer. Ongoing hygiene leads to decreased parasite exposure
CoccidiosisHuddled, fluffed and lethargic. Diarrhoea sometimes with bloodDroppings collected from sick bird in late afternoon. AutopsyBaycox (3ml/1L for 48 hours), protein supplements (sprouted seed, seeding grasses, soft foods)
Megabacteria (avian gastric yeast)Fluffed and underweight. Often continually eatDroppings, Autopsy of recently dead bird if availableAcids (citric acid 1tsp/6L) or probiotic to in-contact birds, thorough clean of aviary, Amphoteracin B to sick birds. Identify genetically susceptible birds.
Salmonella (a bacteria)More prevalent in wet times of year, outside aviary, low hygiene, exposure to mice or wild bird droppings.Autopsy and culture. Pooled dropping samples, checked 3 – 6 weeks after therapy to check success. Canaries do not become carriers of Salmonella (common in other birds)Antibiotics, usually Baytril. Provision of chopped greens and soft foods will help prevent dehydration, multivitamins in water, hygiene
Yersinia (a bacteria)As AboveAutopsy and cultureAs Above
Other bacteria, e.g. E. coliSome birds may have an infection elsewhere, e.g. in eyes or sinusAs AboveAs Above
Chlamydia
(formerly Chlamyida)
Often also have conjunctivitis and nasal discharge, low mortality. (less than 10%) Some birds develop into asymptomatic carriers. Periodic flare-ups of disease can occur following stressThroat swab (preferred) or cloacal swab. Autopsy. Blood (Immunocomb) testDoxycycline (Doxyvet 1tsp/2L), Baytril (1drop twice daily per 100g/bw or 10ml/1L of drinking water)
TapewormsWeight loss, visible ribbons of egg packets (called proglottids) in droppings. More likely to occur in species that eat a lot of live food, eg: CrimsonsExamination of droppings for proglottids or discovery of adults in bowel at autopsyInsects act as intermediate hosts. Medication of choice is praziquantel but must be used with care in finches. Moxidectin Plus (which contains Moxidectin and praziquantel) appears effective and safe at 5 ml/1 litre or 1 drop/100 g body weight.
Mycobacterium, avian tuberculosisPrincipally weight loss accompanied by either diarrhoea or shortness of breath. Usually Gouldians affectedMicroscopic examination of droppings following special staining may be suggestive of problem. Biopsy of suspect lesion Autopsy, pathologyMedication available for individual birds of value. Infected birds often euthanised. Long-term quarantine
Round and hairwormsIncreased vulnerability to other diseaseMicroscopic examination of droppings. AutopsyUsually Moxidectin, 2 mg/ml, 5 ml to 1 litre water for 1 – 3 days or 1 drop/100 g body weight
Candida, a yeastDelayed crop emptying and failure to thrive in nestlings. Related to unbalanced diet, poor hygiene, overcrowding, stress or the uncontrolled use of antibioticsMicroscopic examination of droppings or throat swabProbiotics (e.g. Probac) or acids (e.g. apple cider vinegar, 5 ml/litre). For individual birds, Nilstat, 1 ml/300 g body weight. Correction of predisposing factors
Sudden deathToxic exposureMay have salivation, diarrhoea, difficulty breathingDetailed historyIdentification and aviodance of toxin
StarvationBlood in droppings, too ill to eat, getting wrong food or no food at all, someone else looking after the birdsRecently dead bird for autopsy
Plasmodium, a form of avian malaria spread by mosquitoesWeight loss, lethargy, shortness of breath. Blue-faced Parrot Finches particularly susceptible. Wild reservoir in sparrowsBlood sample for microscopic examination or autopsyChloroquin or Pyrimethamine. Can be prevented with weekly doses
Hepatic lipidosis (fatty liver)Particularly Zebra, Parrot and Star Finches. Associated with inadequate exercise and high energy diet, such as soft foods and meal wormsAutopsy and pathologyDietary correction. Increased protein in diet and ensure adequate levels of choline and methionine. Supplementation with some herbs (dandelion and milk thistle) may help
MiscellaneousScaly face. Knemicoptes mite infectionCrusty lesions on face and legsAppearance often diagnostic. Microscopic examination of crustsMoxidectin (2mg/ml , 1drop to effected birds twice at a 3 week interval)

https://www.melbournebirdvet.com/finch-diseases/ accessed 20 April 2021

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