Respiratory Diseases

aspergillosis, choanal atresia,


Aspergillosis While discussing asper on another list I’m on, we found an article on asper in Jardines. It gives a great deal of good info:

Also, I found this url a few days ago. It shows a picture of just what asper. looks like microscopically, in case anyone is interested. .


Aspergillus is a real pain to get rid of – especially when it’s in the air sacs or sinuses, both of which have a poor blood supply and are difficult to reach with systemic (oral or injectable) drugs. According to my vet, the most effective of the “azoles” (systemic antifungals) is itraconazole. It is not a “safe” drug by any means, but it is less toxic than some of the others and is more effective against asper – or so I’m told.

In any case, the medication is more effective if it gets where it’s needed, and may cause fewer side effects in vital organs if administered using a method other than injection or oral dosing. For lung/air sac infestations, nebulization is the method of choice, but will get fairly expensive unless you can buy or borrow a nebulizer to use at home. Nebulization involves turning the liquid medication into a gas and making the bird breathe it in, and requires a special machine. Nebulization may also work for sinus infections, but another possibility would be sinus flushes with a saline solution that has the medication dissolved in it. The vet could possibly teach you to do the sinus flushes yourself at home if s/he is willing, but you may not be comfortable doing it since it’s unpleasant for the bird and there is some risk of aspiration. In any case, treatment should be administered for at least 2 – 3 weeks. The most common mistake made when treating aspergillus is to stop the treatment too soon, allowing the the organisms which are most resistant to the medication used to regrow and making it even harder to eliminate them.

Since aspergillus is an ever-present organism in most homes, it is classified as a “secondary pathogen” – meaning that it is something that usually causes illness only in birds that are already weakened, ill, or have compromised immune systems. Therefore, I would suggest that immune support – perhaps echinacea and garlic? ( – herbals might be extremely helpful; stimulating the bird’s immune system to fight off the fungus in conjuction with the drug therapy could be just the ticket to a full recovery.

My personal experience has been that I’ve had a half dozen or so birds that had aspergillus; 3 died, but all of them had multiple problems (simultaneous bacterial infection or some other illness) and weren’t killed by JUST aspergillus. The others responded to treatment with itraconazole and recovered.

Best Wishes, Heike

I talked to someone that is giving Maitake Mushroom for chronic  aspergillosis in her B&G. She gave the B&G Itraconazole for two  years. A vet recommended trying Maitake Mushroom along with the  Itraconazole. She did it and after a month the B&G had a negative  antigen titer. She kept the B&G on both for another month then  discontinued the Itraconazole. She said she is going to continue the  Maitake Mushroom and start Shitake for the rest of the bird’s life.

I asked about the 14 days on and 7 days off. She said at this point  she was going to give it every day until more research has been done. I am going to start this tomorrow with my B&G. I am not recommending  this since I haven’t tried it on my B&G but if anyone has a bird with  aspergillosis it might be worth investigating.

I am not sure if it can be given with Pau D’ Arco but I am going to discontinue that to be on the safe side. If anyone knows if you can combine those I  would like to know. Thanks,  Donna

My U2 was also treated with Sporonox but an important part of his treatment was also a fresh organic diet, echinacea and milk thistle. I also consulted with Alicia and he’s doing great where as other birds I know of have relapsed under conventional care. I wanted to share that, as an example of how different treatments, help different birds. With Casper we also had to keep a kidney condition in mind.

I’m currently treating birds for something else. One I’m having to be more aggressive with, Nicholette U2, the others are being treated preventively, mostly keeping immunities strong and again, diet being an extremely important part of that. They also get the Natren probiotics, 3x a week or every other day, but not only the Megadophilius but also the Bifido Factor, to complete it. One product is for large intestine, and the other for small intestine in humans.

Is there a reason Akai isn’t getting the Bifido with his asper?

I did ask her right after she started this treatment if she felt some immune system treatment should be included. She said that this treatment did have immune builders in it. And I guess because the treatment is kinder to the system the Milk Thistle isn’t needed? I had added the milk thistle before consulting with Alicia because Sporonox (intraconazole) effects the liver.

When I mentioned that I was giving it to him, Alicia told me to continue the milk thistle but to stop of course, once I stopped the intraconazole.

Astragalus provides support for immune system restoration, stimulates it and enhances, it can also enhance lung function and has some other uses. Pau d’ Arco also helps builds immunity and strengthens cellular structure. The Usnea has been used for skin infection, abscesses, upper respiratory and lung infections, and fungal infections (effective against various fungal strains). It would be interesting to know the link of Uva Uri in Akai’s treatment. It works similar to cranberry juice but is more effective. It’s also effective against e.coli and is a diuretic.

hugs, Shauna


Elder flowers and eyebright are both good herbs for upper respiratory congestion, while aniseed and woolly mullein could be used for lower respiratory congestion (they could be used in combination). Cleavers is an excellent herb for lymphatic system congestion (usually a factor in respiratory infections). The herbs echinacea and astragalus are useful for strengthening the immune system.

However, if you have no experience with herbs, it would probably be best to find a holistic vet who can help you with a suitable combination for your bird. Otherwise it might be best to stick with the nutritional approach (taking care to provide safe levels of nutrients).

Different herbs have different properties, so there is no such thing as a general purpose herb (if only life were that easy!). Herbs, vitamins and minerals are natural substances, but incorrectly used (inappropriate use or overdose) they can still be toxic.

Carole Bryant

About a week ago, my 4 yr-old female DYA started sneezing. Not more than usual but each sneeze came with a little shower. We went to the vet and took a lot of tests but all of them came back negative. Whilst waiting for the test results she was put on antibiotics. The vet said the sneezing might be due to a virus or vitamin A deficiency, probably the latter.

When a bird has vitamin A deficiency, the immune system doesn’t do the job it should, so things like viruses, fungi, and bacteria are more likely to overwhelm the host. Did your vet look at the papillae in the choana (back in the throat? If the papillae are damaged or missing, that is a clue to vitamin A deficiency.

Other clues show up in the feathers. (stress bars and blackened feathers that are supposed to be green.) Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin, obtained from animal sources, stored in the liver, and can be overdosed. Plant sources contain a precurser to Vitamin A, called carotene. Beta-carotene is the one most of us have heard about, but the other carotenes are important too. They are changed from carotene into Vitamin A in the body. Carotenes cannot be overdosed because they are water-soluable.

Water soluable vitamins are not stored in the body. Those that are unused pass out in the urine. Sneezing can be caused from from problems other than vitamin A deficiency.

Allergies can cause sneezing. It is spring. Pollen is in the air and so are the spores of molds and fungi. Inside the house, you could be spring cleaning…stirring up the dust of winter or using household cleaners to which your bird is sensitive. Think about what has changed just prior to your bird’s onset of sneezing.

What can I do to help her? My vet left me at a loss, saying I should accept her sneezes, since she seems to be in perfect health except for them and just keep her under close observation.

Sneezes are a symptom that something is wrong. You can do some evaluation yourself now that the vet has ruled out bacteria, yeast, fungus, and virus? What tests did he/she do? If he did a white cell differential, was there a high eosinophil count? That is an indication of allergies.

If that is the case, then you need to look for the source. Another possibility is to consult with a holistic veterinarian versed in homeopathy. The homeopathic vet can treat based on symptoms and would not necessarily require a diagnosis.

Her diet consists of about 40% Harrison’s, 30% veggies and fruits and the remainder of sprouts, beans, nuts and people food (pasta, rice, etc). She eats her carrots and her red peppers, but that doesn’t seem to be enough. I serve a lot of veggies and berries that have been frozen since the season for organically grown greens is short here. Can that effect the quality of vitamin A?

Vitamin A isn’t usually affected by freezing. Foods high in carotenes are: endive, escarole, kale, romaine, spinach, broccoli, squash, pumpkin, carrots, peaches, apricots, and cantaloupe…..yellow, orange, and dark green leafy vegetables.

Is there anything else I can give her and in that case how much?

If you think your bird has a Vitamin A deficiency and requires supplementation, then give one vitamin A capsule once a week. It will be a liquid gel capsule. Maybe you can pierce it and squeeze the contents onto a couple of seeds. You didn’t mention any seeds or nuts in your bird’s diet. Essential Fatty Acids are also necessary for good health. Fats carry EFAs and are required for the absorption of fat soluble vitamins.


When Andy and Jade once again decided to breed a few weeks ago, I pulled the two chicks with some trepidation – and one of them started up with this clear sinus drainage about 2 1/2 weeks ago


It sounds like something is severely depressing the babies immune systems to cause the the secondary bacterial and asper. problems. I had one pair of cockatiels that sound similar to your pair (both pluckers and similar problems with the babies) Their babies respiratory problems were so bad that NO antibiotics, flushes or treatments helped.

A friend used a needle to draw out fluids that was built-up in the sinus cavity. Another friend takes in handicapped cockatiels and I gave her young tiel with similar problems, and her vet drained and opened the sinus cavities. If you have the 1994 version of Harrison’s Avian Medicine there is a good detailed drawing of the procedure. (My book is on loan to another breeder, but I will try to get the page number for you.)

Since you are still handfeeding these guys if they have a problem with nutrient absorption and not getting the benefits of the vitamins (mainly A, E and selenium) that would assist the system as to the respiratory and resistance to secondary problems.

When I suspect a nutrient or malabsorption problem I used the injectable multi-vitamin which contains A, B, D and E on a weekly basis. The Stomach Formula…which is made by the same company (Naturade) as the Aloe Detox…will also help. You can give each bird 1cc twice a day orally or with their formula…or add it to their drinking water (at 3 parts water to 1 part SF) for a week. Both the weekly injectable multi-vitamins the Naturade Stomach Formula helped save a bunch of lovebird babies that had severe respiratory problems from an airborne contaminant.

Something else I use that has worked with awesome results is adding 1 drop of Gentian extract (*per 30cc of formula/water*)…and 1 drop of Capsicum (cayenne) extract. This greatly enhances nutrient absorption…plus the vitamin A sourced from the capsicum will help with the respiratory problem. The gentian and capsicum had saved birds for me that were crashing on weight…quieted the constant hunger, and aided the system to utilize the nutrients contained in the food.

These are just a few things that may help the *current* problem with the babies and give their bodies the tools to aid/assist the immune responses. (ALSO vitamin C would be beneficial to add to their formula) You still have to find out *what* is the initial cause/contributor to the current problem.


Choanal Atresia

Bird Clubs of America has a species support page on this. on it is asked “What is involved in choanal atesia? answer: A deformed or thickened hard palate with no choanal slit, or a slit covered over, that wouldn’t allow passage of fluid from the nasal cavity into the oral cavity. Result is a serious discharge from the nostrils. You might want to email Patricia Langford, U of CA. Davis as of the time the fact sheet was printed, her email was .

shared by Jackie C