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Insects in Birds: Case Study 4

Deaths among nestling budgies at a local aviary

A local aviary has lost almost 80% of the nestling budgerigars (aka: budgies, parakeets, Melopsittacus undulatus) that were born in the past month. The owner reports that the nestlings became weak and did not feather properly. The parents then stopped feeding them. The adult birds appear fine, but the nest boxes are caked with fecal material indicating the nestlings had diarrhea. Antibiotics used by the owner (sulfonamides) had no effect on the disease. The only change that occurred in the last few months that the owner can think of is he got in a shipment of new breeders from Texas a few weeks before he noticed the problem with the nestlings.

Below are the results of a zinc sulfate centrifuge flotation done on the fecal material recovered from one of the nest boxes.

Questions:

1. What parasite is infecting the nestlings?

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2. Is this parasite likely to cause the symptoms seen in the nestlings?

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3. Is this parasite likely to cause symptoms in adult birds?

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4. There is no FDA approved drug for this parasite in budgies, so based on what you use in dogs and cats for this parasite and based on the use of these dog and cat drugs in birds in general, name 2 drugs that you could try to use to treat the nestlings.

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5. Considering the expense of treating the thousands of birds at the aviary, should the drugs you choose to give to the nestlings be used at the same time in the adult birds that are not showing symptoms?

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6. Is the parasite you identified in the nestling birds likely to cause disease in humans (i.e. is it zoonotic)?

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7. Name one other protozoan that may cause disease in parakeets (Genus only).

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Copyright © 2006 - University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, All rights reserved.
Faculty: Dr. Thomas Nolan
Students: Molly Church V'09, Diana Knight V'08, Douglas Gilson V'05, Chris Dykhouse V'04, Kimberly Mah V'00

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