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Bird Flu


  Valley Aviary

Breeder's of Eclectus Parrots, Timneh African Grey, Great Billed Parrot, Cape Parrot

Parrot Diseases

The Four P's - Part 1 Overview
The Four P's - Part 2 Psittacosis
The Four P's - Part 3 Polyoma
The Four P's - Part 5 Psittacine Beak and Feather Disease - P.B.F.D.
bulletThe Four P's - Part 4 Proventricular Dilation Disorder or Disease - P.D.D./P.P.D. (a.k.a. Psittacine Proventricular Dilation Disease or Syndrome, a.k.a. Macaw Wasting Disease)
bulletAspergillus and Aspergillosis
bulletWest Nile Virus

Interpreting the Avian Blood Panel

Bird Flu

List of Disinfectants and their Uses


This article originally appeared in the Your Parrot Place Newsletter 06-03-2001.
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The Four P's - Part 1
by Marilu Anderson, Bird Nutrition and Behavior Consultant
Phone: (503) 771-BIRD

This is the first of a five part series on deadly diseases affecting parrots. I'm referring to them as the four P's - Psittacosis, Polyoma, P.D.D. and P.B.F.D. - as all begin with "P" and are often confused and misunderstood.

This first part will be a general overview of the diseases; the next four parts will be an in-depth look at each one individually. I'll examine the causes, symptoms, diagnosis, prevention and possible treatments. Although healthy, well-fed, clean parrots, who aren't exposed to other birds, rarely contract any diseases, birds can already be infected when you acquire them, or can be exposed while at the vet, pet shop, bird sitters, bird club meetings, etc. Parrots, by nature, are masters at hiding any illness - it's necessary for survival in the wild, where an ill bird brings dangerous attention to the whole flock, thus putting everyone at risk for predator attack. This trait remains with parrots in our living rooms, which requires our becoming educated about diseases, and ever observant of our birds' behavior and appearance. With parrots, having a "wait and see" approach to health care can have deadly results, as well as putting others at risk.

All of the P's seem to be known by multiple names, which often causes confusion. In addition, the two often referred to by their acronyms - P.D.D. and P.B.F.D. - are frequently mixed up and interchanged, although the two diseases are vastly different.

Our first "P" - "Psittacosis," is also known as "Chlamydiosis," due to it's causative agent, an intercellular bacteria called "Chlamydia Psittaci." In non-parrot bird species, it's called "Ornithosis." Years ago, the disease was called simply, "Parrot Fever." It is one of the very few diseases transmittable between parrots and humans. Often carried by budgies, all parrots can become infected, though it's rare in lovebirds. It's a big concern with imported birds, which are routinely given the antibiotic, Chlortetracycline, prophylactically while in quarantine. Dirty aviaries with poor hygiene practices are a common source of infection.

The next "P" - "Polyoma," is an extremely infectious viral disease, primarily affecting baby parrots, although it is sometimes contracted by adults - particularly those on inadequate diets, with poor immune systems. Although all hookbill species are susceptible, caiques of all ages are more prone to this illness than other parrots. There is a vaccination available to protect your bird from this serious disease. When purchasing a new parrot, ask the shop or breeder if the bird has been vaccinated. (The more reputable ones are now doing so.)

The third "P" - "P.D.D.," is sometimes referred to as "P.P.D.D." or "P.P.D.S." All these initials stand for Psittacine Proventricular Dilation (Disorder, Disease, or Syndrome). It also used to be known as "Macaw Wasting Disease," as it was first observed in Macaws, who would lose weight rapidly, despite voracious eating, and literally starve to death. (I used to describe it to people as "birdie AIDS" due to this similarity to HIV disease in humans.) Despite this reference to macaws, all parrots are capable of contracting this deadly virus. It's not discussed as often as some of the other parrot diseases, but since it's a cruel and insidious killer, it's one you need to be aware of.

The last "P" - "P.B.F.D.," is often confused with P.D.D., but affects the bird's body entirely differently. P.B.F.D. stands for "Psittacine Beak and Feather Disease," probably the one name that's quite self explanatory! (Sometimes described as P.B.F.S. - "Psittacine Beak and Feather Syndrome.) First called "Cockatoo Syndrome," due to its prevalence in Cockatoos (especially Moluccans), it is now known to infect a variety of diverse hookbill species. Viral in origin, it affects parrots of all ages. Some birds will show no signs of illness, but are carriers of the disease - yet another reason for annual vet check-ups, despite birds appearing "healthy" to the eye. Fortunately, there is a test for this virus that can (and should) be done during your "New Bird" or "Well Bird" exam.

So, four deadly diseases, all starting with "P," plus a whole bunch of other names and initials and confusion over "Syndromes, "Disorders" and "Diseases" - but the bottom line, no matter what name these four diseases go by, all can be fatal. Sometimes these illnesses kill quickly, other times they take years to slowly rob a parrot of his health and vitality. In other cases, infection may be mild, or there may be no signs of illness, but the bird is a deadly carrier. Better understanding of the bacteria and reliable tests for early diagnosis, as well as vaccines for some. Unfortunately, not much is yet available in the way of treatment for the viruses, though catching the bacterial Psittacosis early can sometimes result in a full cure (Birds can still remain infectious to others, however.) Early diagnosis of the three viral diseases can help prevent secondary infections and increase the overall quality of life, as well as the length possibly.

In the upcoming four parts, I'll delve more deeply into each disease, to give the full picture on what these diseases entail, and what you can do to prevent or identify diseases.


This article originally appeared in the Your Parrot Place  Newsletter 06-10-2001.
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by Marilu Anderson, Bird Nutrition and Behavior Consultant
Phone: (503) 771-BIRD

"Psittacosis," Chlamydiosis," "Ornithosis," "Parrot Fever" - four names all meaning the same thing - a nasty bacterial infection, affecting all birds, including parrots, and also humans. It's tales of "Parrot Fever" years ago that gave some folks the idea that parrots were "dirty," dangerous pets! Actually, the parasite responsible for this disease is found in over 100 bird species, besides parrots. First attracting attention in the 1930's, psittacosis reached epidemic proportions in both Europe and America and created a general panic regarding importation of parrots. Initially, extremely strict regulations were enacted to prevent the spread of this disease (of huge concern primarily because of it's ability to infect humans, not just birds).

Due to mandatory 30 day quarantine periods and the routine use of chlortetracycline for all quarantined birds, psittacoses has been almost wiped out. Why "almost?" Due to the popularity of smuggling parrots for profit, as well as occasional lapses in proper quarantine practices, there are still some infected birds around. Often associated with a lack of cleanliness, the same low standard aviaries that deal with smuggled birds, also practice poor husbandry, thus allowing the disease to proliferate and spread. Because psittacosis can affect humans, any cases must be reported to public health officials. Confirmed diagnosis means mandatory quarantining and treatment with antibiotics (chlortetracycline). If caught early, it can be highly treatable. Occasionally, some untreated birds recover spontaneously, but remain carriers and continue to spread the disease.

Symptoms are similar to many other diseases, including weight loss, diarrhea, poor appetite, lethargy, and sleepiness. Droppings tend to be pasty and light green. Often the birds looks like it has a cold, with watery eyes and a runny nose. Breathing can be labored. There is a fecal test which can check for presence of the pathogen, a unique intercellular bacteria, called "Chlamydia Psittaci." Untreated, the disease is most often fatal.

The best prevention includes buying from reputable, clean sources, and going for an immediate vet exam as soon as you purchase a new bird. Quarantine new birds for 30 - 60 days, away from all other birds (not just physical contact, but optimally, air space as well). A varied, well balanced diet, including lots of fresh veggies, some fruit, sprouts, whole grains, legumes, natural pellets and some seed helps build a strong immune system. And, of course, scrupulous hygiene. Wash hands often and avoid contact with other birds. Don't let strangers handle your bird without disinfecting hands first. In humans, Psittacosis can be serious and life threatening. It starts like a cold or the flu, progressing to respiratory infection and fever. If caught early and treated with antibiotics, it can be curable (as in birds.)

While Psittacosis should no longer be the threat it once was, and responds well to antibiotics and supportive therapy then caught early, lack of attention to any sick bird can mean unnecessary suffering and death for your parrot. Keep your bird healthy and happy, practice good husbandry and go for regular "Well Bird" check-ups, as well as immediate vet trips if a bird looks or acts out of sorts.

There is no vaccine to prevent this once common disease, but good sense, good care, and attention to detail can go a long way. Avoid sickly, "bargain basement" birdies - they're not worth the risk. Don't let Psittacosis get your bird - or you!


This article originally appeared in the Your Parrot Place  Newsletter 06-17-2001.
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by Marilu Anderson, Bird Nutrition and Behavior Consultant
Phone: (503) 771-BIRD

Unlike Psittacosis, which is bacterial in origin, the next three "P's" are viral - and one of the primary bad news viruses is Polyoma!

First, let's look more closely at viruses in general. Unlike all pathogens, viruses can replicate ONLY inside a "host," such as an infected bird. Viruses are generally very "species-specific" in other words, Human viruses cannot infect birds, and vice versa. Next, viruses fall into two categories: "enveloped," and "nonenveloped." Nonenveloped viruses are much hardier and can live longer outside the body than enveloped ones. Polyomavirus is a nonenveloped virus, which means it resists many disinfectants, as well as freezing and exposure to high heat. It has been found to be made inactive by exposure to chlorine bleach or 70% isopropyl alcohol, however. This means that practicing good husbandry and thoroughly disinfecting your nursery and equipment will help prevent spread of disease - even the viruses! (I'll discuss this more in depth in a future article.) Polyomavirus is not only hardy and tough to kill, but also highly contagious and most often fatal - not a disease to be taken lightly!

Generally affecting baby parrots, it is of great concern to breeders and bird shops. Adult birds sometimes become infected, often as a secondary infection to another viral disease, such as PBFD. Caiques of any age are more prone to contracting Polyoma, although it can affect hookbills of many species. When adults do become infected, it is rarely fatal, although they many show mild signs of sickness. It's most apt to strike adults in poor health already, who have impaired immunity.

Polyomavirus (aka Budgerigar Fledgling Disease) - and many other avian viruses - were only identified in the 1980's. Major work was done throughout the 80's and 90's on further understanding the virus - how it replicates and spreads, how to best identify it, and how to prevent and treat it. Dr. Branson Ritchie is one of the main avian researchers working on this disease. I found there to be a lot of conflicting info on many aspects of this virus, as well as some disagreement among the researchers!

Like Psittacosis, Polyoma can be identified through both fecal and blood tests. Fecal tests for Polyomavirus are reliable, though, only when birds are actively shedding the virus. It's a good idea to test birds twice, since the virus will not show up all the time.

As far as how the virus is spread, most often babies are infected by parent regurgitation. It can also be airborne, spreading to other birds who inhale the virus from the dander of birds who have the infection. (All birds spread major dander in the air when they preen, and then shake out their feathers. Using a quality air filter helps reduce the dander.)

Symptoms sometimes include feather abnormalities, but often not. Of course, deformed feathers can also indicated many other problems and diseases, such as P.B.F.D. In the "old days," Polyomavirus was associated with "Budgie Fledgling Disease," but we now know that many large hookbills are equally susceptible to this virus. Budgies do tend to show different symptoms, however, such as poor coordination and abdominal distention. Other parrot chicks sometimes appear depressed, have poor appetites, slow emptying of the crop, as well as frequent regurgitation Often, the chick dies within 48 hours. At times, no symptoms appear at all. With adults, death may also come quickly, often with NO warning symptoms.

Unfortunately, there is no treatment currently available, although there is a vaccine to prevent infection and it's an excellent idea to vaccinate youngsters. There is some debate within the research community on just how effective this vaccine is. Researchers at the University of Georgia's Psittacine Disease Research Group are working on a new "high-tech" Polyoma vaccine. Great progress is being made on further understanding this virus, and researchers have come far in identifying the incubation period, as well as how long infected birds can continue to shed the virus. Improved diagnostic tests are now considerably more reliable than just a few short years ago, as far as accurately identifying the virus in the blood. The next decade promises lots of positive progress in dealing with this deadly disease - stay tuned! And don't forget to support avian research!

For more information about Polyomavirus and the vaccine against it check the following links:

bullet Avian Polyomavirus -- My Thoughts by Dr. David Phalen
bulletQuestions About The Polyoma Vaccine by Joel Blumberg, DVM:
bullet Prevention of Avian Polyomavirus Infections through Vaccination


This article originally appeared in the Your Parrot Place  Newsletter 06-24-2001.
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Proventricular Dilation Disorder or Disease - P.D.D./P.P.D.
a.k.a. Psittacine Proventricular Dilation Disease or Syndrome
a.k.a. Macaw Wasting Disease

by Marilu Anderson, Bird Nutrition and Behavior Consultant
Phone: (503) 771-BIRD

(Note: This is the 4th in a 5 part series on avian diseases - Part 1 was an overview of Psittacosis, Polyoma, PPD, and PBFD. For those who may have missed Part 1, I'm doing some repetition of facts as a review on each disease in the follow-up articles.)

Talk about confusing! This ominous sounding acronym can't even agree on which letters to use!! I first knew it as P.D.D. - Proventricular Dilation Disorder (or Disease), then saw it often listed as "P.P.D." - Psittacine Proventricular Dilation - sometimes adding a "D" for Disorder or Disease" or an "S" (Syndrome). Whatever the letters, this is one scary illness, causing extreme suffering and often, death. (For the sake of simplicity, I'll use "P.P.D." for this article.) This is one that really makes me queasy, as there is neither a valid diagnostic test that can be done (on a live bird), a vaccination to prevent it, or a treatment for it. Furthermore, it seems to constantly change and evolve, eluding researchers in their efforts to identify and understand it.

First identified in the 1970's, it was known as "Macaw Wasting Disease," as the imported Blue and Gold Macaws first observed with it would literally waste away and die, no matter how much food they consumed. Although it reminds me of A.I.D.S. in it's ability to degenerate the body, it is in no way related to H.I.V. It is not transmittable to humans, although it had been found in all hookbills, as well as canaries, finches, geese, and some other bird species.

This disease involves the proventriculis, which is a bird's glandular stomach, although it is primarily a nervous system infection rather than a gastrointestinal one. P.P.D. is an enveloped virus, meaning it doesn't survive well outside the body, yet it's still one tough enemy!! I find there's little mention of this disease in many parrot resources, probably due to the fact that this virus is so elusive and poorly understood. It appears to NOT be readily transmittable, yet many birds can remain unaffected carriers of years. The usual incubation period for clinical symptoms to appear seems to be from 3 - 6 months, although some researchers feel it can take years for the disease to manifest. Besides the incredible work being done by Dr. Branson Ritchie, others, like Dr. Jack Gaskin, of the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine, continue to work tirelessly on the difficult virus. Dr. Gaskin states that "problems involve the inability to researchers to consistently recover the virus, propagate it, and then consistently reproduce disease with it."

In trying to identify and diagnose P.P.D. in live birds, evaluation of the crop or ventriculus may or may not detect the virus. Electron microscope exam of feces may show viral particles, but is not a reliable test, as well. The only truly accurate test for the virus happens after death, during necropsy. Exam of brain material from dead birds is the most reliable diagnostic tool (sad to say).

As far as symptoms, birds often pass undigested seeds in their droppings. In addition, birds may regurgitate or vomit. Weight loss is often noticeable (another good reason to weigh birds on a gram scale regularly). Dilation of the G.I. tract may cause abdominal swelling. Some birds will start having seizures or show muscular weakness, often leading to paralysis. It usually starts with the legs, progressing to the wings. Infected babies may be difficult to wean, or revert back to "baby begging." You may notice slowness of the crop and often see secondary problems, such as bacterial or yeast infections in the crop. Radiographic exam may show an enlarged proventriculus. Birds may both eat and drink far more than normal. Droppings are often large and malodorous. If the crop is biopsied, it's important to include a large blood vessel, containing a nerve ganglion in order to
see the characteristic P.P.D. lesions. Crop biopsies are generally not considered an effective diagnostic tool in always diagnosing P.P.D.

Because of the lack of adequate diagnostic tests, P.P.D. can also be hard to prevent. A healthy - looking bird can be a carrier for months. Like most diseases, scrupulous hygiene and optimum nutrition and care go a long way in prevention. It appears that some birds are resistant to this infection and can somehow fight off the virus. Infected birds need total isolation and quarantine, supportive care for secondary infections and the highest quality diet possible, abundant in calories, proteins, and vitamins. The good news is that this virus does NOT appear to be highly transmittable from bird to bird. Remember, this virus behaves differently than others and is not very predictable. Monitor all bird's droppings daily and weight on a weekly (or at least monthly) basis to catch any signs early. Please stay informed on this frightening disease, and give generously to the die-hard researchers struggling to understand and combat this horrible virus!


This article originally appeared in the Your Parrot Place  Newsletter 07-01-2001.
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Psittacine Beak and Feather Disease - P.B.F.D.
by Marilu Anderson, Bird Nutrition and Behavior Consultant
Phone: (503) 771-BIRD

This is the final episode of my five part series on some of the serious diseases threatening our parrot friends. Last, but certainly not least, is "P.B.F.D." - "Psittacine Beak and Feather Disease." Like the first three, there's a lot of confusion and misunderstanding about this deadly virus. First known as "Cockatoo Syndrome," due to it's prevalence in Moluccans and Umbrellas, it affects many other species as well - Cockatiels, Lovebirds, Eclectus, African Greys, Amazons, Pionus, Macaws, Rosellas, Budgies, Ringnecks - virtually ALL hookbills!! It is also know as "Feather-Loss Syndrome," "Beak Necrosis," and "White Cockatoo Disease," among other names. Although I often refer to P.P.D. as "Birdie Aids" due to the wasting P.P.D. causes, P.B.F.D. is ALSO like a "Birdie Aids" as it causes serious depression of the immune system. This loss of immunity makes infected birds highly susceptible to even minor infections that come along, causing further problems. These secondary infections include TB, Lymphoma, and a host of bacterial illnesses. All of these are treatable, although the P.B.F.D. itself is not - so the bird needs supportive treatment and care.

P.B.F.D. is caused by a highly infectious circodna virus, which tends to remain stable in the environment for a long time. Using a bleach solution to wipe down walls and floors (as well as cages and accessories) will kill the virus. It's impossible to disinfect carpets, so it's advisable not to have carpeting in nurseries and retail bird shops. This virus, along with the others, (and the bacteria causing Psittacosis) can remain viable in carpet for long periods. Hepa filters are also helpful in preventing the virus from being spread through the air.

The virus is transmitted via feces, feather dust, crop fluid, and passed through the egg. The incubation period from infection to showing symptoms can vary widely, depending on the species, age, and overall health of the bird. Obviously, babies and those in poor condition become sick much more quickly. It's possible for infected birds to show no symptoms, but be carriers for months. Normally, abnormal feathers will be your first clue.

***Remember, nutritional deficits and Polyomavirus can also cause feather abnormalities, so see your avian vet at FIRST sign of problems.***

Affecting parrot of all ages, young birds tend to have all feathers affected at once, while older birds may show signs over the course of several molts. Besides feather symptoms, beaks and toenails can crack and grow rapidly. Birds may experience problems inside the roof of the mouth, affecting the ability to eat.

First seen as a loss of powder (in Cockatoos) and "dingyness" of feathers, you'll also find retention of feather sheaths and clubbed feathers. Often, these birds look like pluckers. Next you'll see loss of pigment in nails and beak, overgrowth of the upper mandible, and more rapid growth of the beak and nails. Birds become irritable and sullen, and touching causes pain. Pale spots appear in feathers and beak edges start to rot off. In the end, the bird has lots of bald patches, pieces of beak and toenails break off very easily and the bird becomes totally offish or neurotic in behavior.

There is no cure for P.B.F.D. Bird may die quickly, or live for years, depending on overall vitality and immune strength. Tests can confirm this disease even before symptoms show. Dr. Branson Ritchie at University of Georgia has developed two blood tests - one detects antibodies to the P.B.F.D. virus, the other, identifies birds who have the virus circulating in the blood. Biopsy of infected feathers (with follicles) can confirm diagnosis. Further testing needs to be done to identify secondary infection, so they can be properly treated.

Although P.B.F.D. is incurable, improving the immune system and treating secondary infections can allow the bird both improved quality and quantity of life. Care must be taken to keep sick birds warm, since feather loss can lead to chilling. Many people feel depression is common in P.B.F.D. infected birds, as the feather and beak problems distort their appearance and affect body image. Give lots of positive reinforcement and love to your sick bird! Tell him he's beautiful!

Researchers in both America and Europe (especially Germany) are working diligently on P.B.F.D., as well as the other avian viruses. An experimental vaccine for P.B.F.D. is being tested. If caught early, many birds can live for years with proper diet medication, vet support, and special attention.

Practice fastidious husbandry, give your birds the nutritious diet, safe toys, guidance and love that they need. See your avian vet at least annually (sooner if problems arise) and have them tested! Support research groups trying to battle these diseases. Maybe some day, all our parrot friends will live in a disease free world!

Aspergillus & Aspergillosis

This article originally appeared in the Your Parrot Place  Newsletter 12-24-2000.
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Aspergillus and Aspergillosis
by Marilu Anderson, Bird Nutrition and Behavior Consultant
Phone: (503) 771-BIRD

You've probably hears of Aspergillus and Aspergillosis, but may not be clear on what these terms mean. First, "Aspergillus" is the name of a common fungus that is naturally present in the environment. For most birds (and people) it causes no problems, but if too many aspergillus organisms are around and your bird has a poor immune system, then the illness "Aspergillosis" sets in. It is often fatal, causing severe respiratory problems. It can be transmitted from birds to humans and vice versa.

Aspergillus spores can be airborne, and are often abundant in corn cob litter. In a damp environment, like we have here in the Northwest, the problem is even worse. I always advise against using this type of litter since it is such a breeding ground for all types of fungus, molds, and bacteria.

Once Aspergillosis has taken hold, the lungs and air sacs fill with large white masses, causing serious breathing problems and further sapping the bird's energy and immunity. The bird will wheeze, or you'll hear a clicking sound and often see tail bobbing when the bird's at rest. Sometimes there is discharge or crustiness around the nostrils. A low grade
infection can show as itchiness, frayed feathers, peeling beak or black feather edging on the wings. There is a blood test for Aspergillosis and it should be part of your bird's
annual checkup.

Treatment is tough - the fungus is hard to kill and because of the weak immune system, there's often secondary infections as well. Birds on poor diets and living in unsanitary conditions are much more prone to this disease. In dealing with the disease, it's important to improve the diet, feeding lots of fresh veggies, fruit and using whole food supplements.

Cleanliness also needs to be a top priority, with daily cage cleaning and scrubbing of food and water dishes, as well as perches and toys. Birds on antibiotics for bacterial infections are much more susceptible to Aspergillosis, as well as other fungal and yeast infections. I advise supplying probiotics to birds who are on antibiotics, as well as feeding yogurt and acidophilus. In addition, feed foods rich in Beta Carotene, as Vitamin A is important for good health of the respiratory tract and skin. Yams, carrots, broccoli, red peppers and apricots are all great, as are supplements like wheat grass and spirulina. Boosting your bird's immune system by supplying a diverse, broad spectrum diet, ensuring adequate rest and daily exercise, and keeping your bird's cage and supplies scrupulously clean will all help prevent this widespread fungus from grabbing hold in your bird. Don't forget the importance of regular "well bird" checkups every year, to catch any disease as early as possible, for the best success in treatment. Treating Aspergillosis with antifungal medications needs to be done under direction of an avian vet - it's not something to try and cure on your own!

West Nile Virus

This article originally appeared in the Your Parrot Place  Newsletter 01-23-2003.
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West Nile Virus
by Gudrun Maybaum
Totally Organics   E-mail: gudrun@totallyorganics.com 

West Nile virus is well known on many continents, where people developed antibodies, and sickness or death seldom result.

However, it was not known to the American continent until 3 years ago. In 1999, when New York's crows were dying by the flocks, one was finally discovered on the ground of the Bronx Zoo and examined.

From there, West Nile made a devastating journey over almost the entire Northern continent, infected thousands of people and killed at least 241. The number of dead animals it left in its path is immense.

Viruses normally are rather host-specific. Unfortunately, it is not so with the West Nile virus. So far, at least 36 mosquito species that carry it have been counted. These mosquitoes transmit it to a wide variety of species -- human, mammal, birds and reptiles -- which is very unusual for a virus.

Around 200 species of birds, reptiles and mammals were affected by it in 2002 alone. West Nile not only killed an alarming array of wildlife, but many different species in zoos and even pets. We read about an unknown number of squirrels, chipmunks, mountain goats, reindeer, rabbits, bats, hawk, eagles, owls, pelicans, doves, gulls, herons, kingfishers, swans, sparrows, turkeys, woodpeckers, seals, flamingos and many, many more. Researchers actually found 140 species of birds sick or dead from the West Nile virus. Even Florida's alligator farms lost more than 200 reptiles. When we look into our homes, there were 14,000 sick horses last summer, and an unknown number of dogs, cats and birds.

Researchers have found that mosquitoes are not the only carriers of West Nile; raptors can get it due to eating infected prey. Some birds spread it through their droppings and some pass it to their chicks while they are still in the egg.

All of this is not only scary, but alarming. We can protect ourselves by wearing mosquito repellent, but what can we do about our beloved pets?

Let's start indoors. Make sure all the screens on the windows and doors have no holes, so that no mosquitoes can get through. Have plants like sweet basil in every room. The best defense is to not even let them come close. Plant basil, tansy, garlic, tomatoes, catnip and eucalyptus around the house and outdoor flights of your birds.

Mosquitoes don't like garlic, so feeding your pets (dog, cats, birds) some garlic every day is a good idea. If they don't eat it, just put a few pieces of fresh garlic in their bowls. Even if they don't eat it, the smell will keep the mosquitoes away.

There is a repellent called garlic barrier, which is basically liquid garlic mixed with water and is to be sprayed all over the garden. You can make it yourself or here is the link to
order it:

Mosquito Barrier 

Citronella oil and neem oil are very effective in repelling mosquitoes. For yourself, mix some coconut oil with a drop of the neem as a natural repellent applied to your skin. Citronella candles are also very effective, though I would not use them inside because they could harm your birds' respiratory system.

More online articles on West Nile Virus and Parrots:

Parrot Chronicles
Old World Aviaries
Exotic Pet Vet
Birds n Ways

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