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"Parrot Pox"

Parrot pox is one of the five sub-groups of Avian Pox Virus and is seen in two forms in psittacines; Dry and Wet. The dry form results in harmless dry scabs on facial areas while wet pox results in severe oral lesions and concurrent systemic disease.

Insects or direct contact with infected birds transmits it. Budgerigars are one of the commonly affected psittacine species but there is no evidence that a carrier state exists in psittacine birds.

Incubation

Pharyngeal lesions appear 7 to 10 days after contact, while eye lesions do not appear until 10 to 14 days.

Clinical Signs

1. Eye lesions.

a)                              Swelling of the lids.

b)                              Pasting of the lids.

c)                               Fluid accumulation with white flecks.

d)                              Fluid accumulation with white caseous masses.

e)                              Scab formation.

f)                                 Erosion of the cornea, corneal rupture, scarring.

2. Pharyngeal lesions.

(a)                            Thickening/paleness of the choanal cleft.

(b)                            Large white plaque like lesions on the tongue and glottis.

(c)                            Caseous plugs may fill the trachea and bronchi.

(d)                            Pneumonia.

(e)                            Airsaculitis.

(f)                              Secondary bacterial and fungal infections.

3. Scabs on the cere and feet.

Death is usually due to secondary bacterial septicemias, wasting and malnutrition due to failure to eat because of painful lesions, from pneumonia

Treatment

Vaccines available for Pigeon and Fowl Pox are not effective in the psittacines. Vitamin A supplement. Long term antibiotic therapy using Gentamycin and Tylosin concurrently for control of secondary invaders. Eyes are washed daily with Mercurochrome and eye wash solution. Chloromycetin ophthalmic ointment after washing.

Supportive therapy in the form of tube feeding, warmth and soft food diet is helpful.

Recovery is slow, usually three to four weeks, with scarring of the eyes, cere, nostrils and choana often a residual effect. Chronic respiratory disease and Aspergillosis are not uncommon following a Pox infection.

Prevention

Vitamin A supplement. There is also some thought that Vitamin A supplement during the incubation period and prior to onset of lesions will diminish the intensity of the symptoms once they appear. Quarantine and vector control are the primary preventive measures.

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1999/2000
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