Author: BUUZBEE (Anna)
December 12, 2006
You Must Quarantine!
The spread of infectious disease among parrots can be utterly devastating. I have heard truly awful stories. If you suspect one of your birds is ill, isolate it immediately. Do not purchase any birds if you suspect there is already a problem in your aviary. You must first investigate the illness, eliminate any sources, and thoroughly sterilize your aviary before even considering adding new birds. Diseases such as polyoma have a domino effect and can quickly turn your aviary into a breeding house of death. You might raise a clutch of babies to weaning, only to have them "suddenly" become ill and die during weaning, the time when inactive virus can take over the host and quickly kill a neonate (death occurs within 48 hours of clinical signs). After hand-feeding a chick for weeks or months, this kind of event is devastating.
I personally observed the consequences of poor quarantine conditions in a pet shop in California. Five blue Indian ringnecks succumbed to polyoma within a few days of each other. The birds had not been properly separated from other parrots, and therefore other babies soon succumbed to the disease as well, including an almost fully weaned lovebird who had been previously healthy.
Many people think it is overreacting to set these standards. Many people will knowingly sell diseased birds. You are the last defense against the spread of disease among your pets or breeder birds!
What Exactly Is a Quarantine?
You basically totally isolate the new birds from the old birds for at least 45 days. Preferably in a seperate building. You take care to scrub your hands thoroughly after handling the new birds. Handle your "old" flock first when doing your daily "rounds." Only deal with the new birds after you're done taking care of your old flock. Change your clothes after dealing with the new birds. Keep a special smock or some such thing to wear before you go into the quarantine area and take it off as soon as you leave the room with the new birds. When you wash your hands, be sure to scrub with a nail brush so nothing is left under your fingernails. The leading veterinary experts on avian viruses will tell you that virus particles CAN get under the nails and be spread to other birds. Feather dust, feces, and contaminated food stuffs can spread disease. Some viruses are EXTREMELY stable, such as the pox virus.
Everything must be separate for the new vs. the old birds. Don't mix food or water bowls. Don't mix food stuffs.
If you inadvertantly (or because you you "think" the new bird seems "fine") expose one of your old flock to the new bird, then see signs of disease in the new bird, you must now also separate from the rest of your flock any of your old birds who were exposed to the suspect bird. This includes birds who were in the same air space. Air space is defined as a confined or close-proximity area in which birds may be exposed to feather dust, feces, dried dust of feces (especially problematic when cleaning cages--psittacosis can remain active in dried feces for months), or food stuffs of sick birds. Air space is shared even in outdoor aviaries (breezes, stacked cages where feathers could drop down to other cages).
Remember you can carry disease on your shoes as well. Only you can judge the amount of exposure you may have to anything that could be in the air. You know how easy it is to catch a cold? There you go.