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- Mary Lynn Skinner
ASPERGILLOSISAspergillosis is a fungal disease that in parrots has a very high mortality rate. The Aspergillus fungus is around us all of the time and we humans, as well as parrots, generally are not susceptible to the disease unless we are immune compromised or somehow get infested with a very large dose of the fungus. Aspergillus is native in soil and is especially virulent in warm damp soil such as potted plant soil or rich composted soil like the soil in your flower beds and garden.
To understand the true danger of fungal infections, one needs to understand a little about fungi in general. Fungi are most similar to plants, but are not plants. The truly difficult issue with a fungus is that they reproduce through emitting spores (seeds). Spores from fungi from thousands of years ago have been found and when given the proper conditions produce fungus. Spores are known to remain viable through very high temperatures and extreme low temperatures.
My veterinarian says that Aspergillosis in parrots can present in a hundred different ways. Therefore making it difficult to advise the owner to look for x, y and z for an Asper diagnosis. Asper can be chronic or acute. It can be difficult to diagnose and is most certainly difficult and very expensive to treat.
For those of you who are geeks (like me) and want to know the knitty-gritty about the Aspergillus fungus this is the definitive site for information:
The Aspergillus/Aspergillosis Website
This site is the avian aspergillosis section of the same organization:
A word about peanuts. Peanuts, especially in shell peanuts are notorious for giving birds Asper. Aflotoxins can also be present on peanuts that have hosted the fungus. Peanuts are grown in the ground – where the Aspergillus fungus lives. There are many nuts that are safer, some such as in shell almonds and Brazil nuts have been known to have Aspergillosus , although the occurrence is rare in those nuts. Peanuts are also very high in saturated fats and for birds that are susceptible to fatty liver disease and heart problems, peanuts will contribute to the potential. My personal rule is DON’T FEED PEANUTS. You will find that the great majority of veterinarians feel the same as I.
Additional information about Avian Aspergillosis:
The first e-zine for parrot owners, including features, news, bird-club and bird-rescue group listings, and advice on health, behavior and breeding.
Aspergillosis has killed my beloved GW, Hank. He is still alive, but suffers from nephritis, liver damage, air-saculitis and most serious granulomas in his lungs and pulmonary fibrosis. As my vet said (after 14 years of fighting Asper and it’s effects) “We have lost the battle”. Hank is now on palliative care. How long do we have together – who knows. I don’t.
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