Avian Canker (Trichomoniasis)

a doctor holding a sign that reads Avian Canker

Avian Canker, also known as Trichomoniasis, is a parasitic disease that affects birds. It’s caused by the protozoan parasite Trichomonas gallinae, which is found in pigeons and other wild birds throughout the world. Ingesting food or water contaminated with the organism can cause them to become infected. The disease can affect a wide variety of avian species, including pigeons, doves, parrots, and canaries. While this is a problem with birds, fortunately there is no risk to humans.

Symptoms of Avian Canker

Symptoms of Canker vary depending on the species of bird, but typically include:

  • Decreased appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Diarrhea
  • Lethargy
  • Ruffled feathers
  • Oral lesions

In pigeons specifically, the disease can cause respiratory problems like sneezing and nasal discharge. If left untreated, Avian Canker can lead to death.

Diagnosing Avian Canker

Diagnosing Canker can be done through a variety of methods, including physical examination, laboratory tests, and tissue biopsy. Physical examination can reveal symptoms like oral lesions or weight loss. Laboratory tests can include fecal smears to look for the presence of the parasite, blood tests to check for anemia or other abnormalities, and culturing the organism from oral swabs or feces. Tissue biopsy can also be used to confirm the diagnosis.

The parrot is up to something

Stages of Avian Canker

Avian Canker has three stages: acute, subacute, and chronic. In the acute stage, birds can have mild to moderate symptoms such as weight loss, diarrhea, and ruffled feathers. In the subacute stage, birds will have more severe signs such as oral lesions, appetite loss, and breathing difficulties. In the chronic stage, birds can have more severe symptoms like emaciation, labored breathing, and death.

Treating Avian Canker

Treating Canker can be done with a variety of medications, including antibiotics and antiparasitics. Antibiotics can be prescribed to treat secondary bacterial infections, while antiparasitics can be used to kill the parasite directly. It’s important to complete the full course of treatment in order to effectively treat the disease. 

Good hygiene should be practiced to reduce the risk of transmission to other birds in your flock.

Preventing Avian Canker

Preventing Avian Canker can be done by practicing good hygiene and having clean living conditions for your birds. All bird food and water should be kept in a clean environment, and any contaminated feed or water should be discarded immediately. Birds should also have access to clean, uncontaminated drinking water. It’s important to quarantine any new birds to ensure that they’re not infected with the parasite.

Additional Information

Avian Canker (Trichomoniasis) is a serious disease that can cause significant illness in birds. It’s important to practice good hygiene and quarantine new birds to prevent its spread. If your bird does become infected, it’s important to get veterinary care immediately and complete the full course of treatment prescribed by your veterinarian.