Aspergillosis in Pet Birds

Aspergillosis, or as it is more commonly referred to “asper”, is a respiratory disease. It is caused by the fungus, aspergillus.

Asper is found everywhere in the environment, particularly in garbage, rotting leaves, compost and other decayed material.

Diagnosis of infection is made through samples taken from the bird’s choanal slit and feces. The choanal split is a v-shaped cleft in the roof of your bird’s mouth that connects with some passages to the nostrils. Microscopic examination can determine if the infection is asper. X-rays can show whether there are growths present in the lungs and air sacs which will determine the severity of the infection. There is another test called Polymerace Chain Reaction (PCR) used to diagnose asper.

Asper is treated by using medications such as nystatin, ketronazole and others. After administering medications for several weeks, the infection is usually resolved.

Early diagnosis can make a big difference in prognosis. Chronic infections do not have as good an outcome, especially if the bird shows signs of respiratory distress and has difficulty breathing due to growths in the lungs and air sacs.

If you suspect aspergillosis in your bird, take him/her to an avian vet ASAP. It is also a good idea to test for asper during regular vet checkups. Treating the infection in its early stages can mean a good prognosis.

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