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Urgent Birds Sick for Months, Can't Figure Out What It Is (Have Been To Vet)

Azellia

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Hi, everyone.

I could use some advice, because I'm at a loss, and so is my vet. In early September, all four of my parakeets started sneezing. I took them to the vet many, many times, and we tried many different tests-physicals, good, x-rays, good, bloodwork, good. Eventually, the vet "kicked me out", essentially, saying that it was probably an environmental issue and there was nothing they could do. I've kept the house immaculately clean the past few months, got rid of anything I thought could be irritating them, no luck.

Well, at the start of December, a new symptom emerged. One of my birds started frequently holding his wings out, like he was hot, even though it was pretty chilly in the house. He started having periods of open mouth breathing. He became quiet and started sleeping most of the day, though he had moments where he was still active, and he still ate fine. I brought him back to the vet, they ran all the tests again, they still can't find anything. He's been hospitalized for the past several days, and he seems stable, at least, on oxygen.

Does anyone have any suggestions as to what this could be? I know only a vet can diagnose my birds, but both of us are honestly baffled.

We're treating for chlamydiosis even though the swab test the vet took came back negative (just in case it was a false negative). I asked the vet about asper and air sac mites as well, but we can't test for asper (would need too much blood, not safe) and air sac mites are hard to detect. The vet is dubious about those diagnoses anyway. I also asked about deficiencies, but the vet doesn't think these are the case, either (vet took bloodwork, but I'm not 100 percent sure if they tested for deficiencies or just did a CBC?).

I don't know. I'm just desperate because my birds have been sick for so long now, and I still have no answers. If anyone can think of things that match up with my birds' symptoms that I can mention to my vet, that would be amazing. Thank you. :heart:
 

Mizzely

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I'm sorry your little ones aren't feeling well! Good on you for being their advocate!

Any possibility of a second opinion? Maybe fresh eyes would help?

If it were environmental, you could potentially board all the birds (or take them to another location) for a few days and if the symptoms disappear, that would be a good indicator that it's something at home. If no change, then you at least can relay that to the vet too.
 

Azellia

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Oops, I probably should have added some extra info-sorry! My head's a mess right now. I've brought my birds to three vets total (it's just easier to refer to them as a single entity in writing) All three are baffled. The one my bird is hospitalized with now is a brand-new one I started seeing beginning of December.

Three out of four of my birds are hospitalized at the moment (the other two started doing the wing thing/open mouth breathing like their brother, but only rarely, and only for a few seconds each time, so the vet wanted to keep an eye on them in case.) But on oxygen, they're doing great. It's just the one that's still in very poor shape.

The fourth is with me at a relative's house, have been there about 3 days. I haven't seen him do the wing thing or the open mouth breathing at all (never started), but he is still sneezing, almost exclusively early morning and night, despite nothing really changing around him around those times.
 

sunnysmom

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Have you checked your house for possible environmental issues? So obvious things like no teflon (teflon can also be in air fryers and other appliances), no febreeze, no candles, no incense, no smoking or vaping, no scented laundry detergent, no air fresheners or plug-ins. Could there be mold anywhere? Do you have a carbon monoxide detector? What is the humidity in the house like?
 

Azellia

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The vet was actually concerned about a natural gas/carbon monoxide leak. But we had the Fire Dep. out last night and they couldn't find anything.

Mold could be an issue. I mentioned to the vets I was concerned about asper many times, but none of them seemed to feel like that could be an issue? Birds got sick a few weeks after I bought them wheat grass for the first time-at the time, I didn't know that wet soil is dangerous, or that wheat grass molds easily, so I put it right in their cage with them. Our basement also flooded in a bad storm in April of this year. We can't see any visible mold, but there could be some hiding, I don't know.

Dad smokes, but never, ever indoors. He's rarely around the birds-he works long hours, and when he's home, he stays in a room far away from them most of the time.

Humidity is fine! I have a tower humidifier and monitor levels carefully. It's usually around 50, sometimes drops to high 40s because it's winter.

No Teflon, febreeze, candles, incense, scented laundry detergent, air fresheners, etc... that I'm aware of. Only issue is that the birds cage is usually sitting in the family room, which is close by my brother's room. He's lied about using candles/air fresheners/etc. in the past, and he locks his room, so I have no way of checking for this stuff myself. He does care deeply about the birds, though, so I'm hoping he's been doing his due diligence here.

I did move the birds upstairs into my room for a while at one point to see if they improved, but no dice. And despite being fully out of the house for 3-5 days now (three at the vet, one with me at a relative's), they're still showing symptoms. So I don't know... environmental issues could definitely be part of the issue, but I feel like there must be something else on top of that???
 

Pixiebeak

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With all birds showing respiratory symptoms, holding wings out is trying to breath have great difficulty breathing, then being a contagious infection , or Air sac mites is top on the list ..

aspergillosis is much less likely unless all were exposed to excessive number of environmental spores, contaminated feed ..Aspergillosis is usually secondary to poor diet and lowered immunity from another health issues , it's not common as a primary infection. Asper is everywhere and isn't a problem for an otherwise healthy bird.

An environmental issue is less likely, as something that would cause this would likely be fatal .

If the only issues are respiratory. Based in the information you have shared. I would ask for air-sac mites treatment for all.

Clymadia is a systemic disease, while respiratory symptoms maybe first or only if the bird dies rapidly. This duration of illness would effect kidney, liver , and other systems in the body. It's possible you have concurrent infection or started with and lowered immunity allowing mites to overwhelm.

There are always exceptions to everything I shared , I'm definitely not claiming to know everything that is possible. If this has stumped 3 vets, then it's likely it's stumped me as well, I don't have their knowledge.

Just sharing the best I can from my experience.

These are budgies? Or another type of parakeet? Have they ever been exposed to chickens? Do you have chickens? Finches? Exposed to outdoor birds ? Being in outdoors aviary?
 

Azellia

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Okay, it's good to hear asper is unlikely! After looking at some pictures, I don't think the mold that was on the wheat grass was asper, it was white in color. And I contacted my parents-apparently we DID find mold in the basement at one point after the flood, but we treated it very quickly. Don't know what type that was, though.

I'll ask for air sac mites treatment when I call the vet again later today! From my understanding, treatment for mites is pretty simple and not that dangerous, so trying can't hurt.

I don't know how they could have gotten mites in the first place, but their symptoms do match up.

Yes, they're budgies! They're the only birds I have, and they're kept indoors.

I do feed the outdoor birds, but I always wash my hands after doing so. And my brother did take his girlfriend to an exotic animal fair earlier this year, though he didn't touch our birds that day after returning. So they've had indirect exposure to other birds, I guess, but nothing direct (except for potentially during previous vet visits?)
 

Azellia

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I just got a call from the vet! I guess they started to suspect air sac mites on their own, because it turns out they began treating for it last night!

One of my birds is well enough I can bring him back from the hospital today. Other two are being kept for now because their respiratory rate is still a bit high. Finger's crossed this treatment works and this months-long saga comes to an end! I will keep you all updated.
 

Pixiebeak

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You will need to also treat the 4 th one as well. The air sac mites ( if this ends up being, and I hope so and get well) can already have been present in one or more of budgies . Then cold stress, nutrition stress, molt stress, or other health stress allowed increased numbers . I'm going to go read up on

Glad no chickens or finches, wild birds there s lot more weird bad stuff they can carry and share
 
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Pixiebeak

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I hope you will share your vets treatment protocol, sbd cleaning recommendations.

I believe several treatments are needed to break the cycle.

This is from a member helping a past air sac issue
 

Azellia

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Hey! We're very confident this is air sac mites now; all birds have improved greatly since we started treatment, the two that are still hospitalized are healthy enough that they can come home tomorrow.

We're doing oral Ivermectin once a week. I believe we plan on doing this for 2-3 weeks total; vet should confirm the exact # of weeks when I pick up my remaining kids tomorrow.

Vet also has them on Baytril (in case of any secondary bacterial infections), Metcam (to ease pain and inflammation), and a once-a-day nebulizing treatment with Lamisil (in case of any secondary fungal infections).

I've been advised to do a deep clean of their cage/perches/toys once per week with hot water and soap, and a lighter clean (wash food and water bowls, spray down perches and toys) once per day.
 

Pixiebeak

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Thank you for sharing! I'm so glad the answer was found, relatively simple to treat and full recovery should be expected! Plus we all benefit in knowledge gained!
 

Azellia

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Hi, everyone. Just thought I'd drop in with an update. Not entirely happy, I'm afraid. :unsure1:

The mite treatment seems to have helped, but not completely eliminated my birds' issues. Sneezing has gone down CONSIDERABLY, but is still happening now and again. They just got their third dose yesterday, so I'm hoping that will help, but I'm not sure if it will.

3/4 of the birds are doing okay, besides the occasional sniffle, though.

Fourth bird isn't doing so hot. He's been very lethargic, and starting this week, I noticed his crop has been pretty big and squishy. Went back to the vet, and they took a crop swab. Results normal... of course. They're now worried about AGY, and sent a test to the lab. I should hear back about that in a few days. In the meantime, they're giving him a med that's supposed to "keep things moving along" in there. Today, his crop looks better, but he's still very sleepy.

If the AGY test comes back negative, then the vet is once again out of ideas, and my last hope is going to see a specialist an entire state away. I know AGY is a pain to treat, but honestly, at this point, I kind of want it to be the answer.

If anyone has any tips for assisting my bird with the crop issue (or any other ideas what this might be) in the meantime, that would be much appreciated! Would ACV in the water be useful, or no?
 

Pixiebeak

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Sorry not a perfect update . I think it can be a little tricky to eliminate. Keep researching, and following your vets advice.

Support immune systems with excellent nutrition

Rigorous cleaning. I'd toss all porous toys and perches . Start fresh , and plan to replace again . Read up on the life cycle to see when replacing would be most effective .. certainly after next treatment. I'm in no way ab expert on this , but I think can take more rounds if treatment.
 

Azellia

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Sounds good. I'll do what I can to keep them comfortable until the results come back!

Also... out of curiosity, does anyone think this could be Trichomoniasis? I'm not sure if that would show up on a crop swab or not. It seems like it can cause crop issues, as well as sneezing and respiratory issues, and affected birds may also rub their beaks on perches a lot (which my birds have been doing excessively). Only issues is, again, my birds have been sick for some time, and I don't know how long something like this could persist. Sorry for all the questions, I'm just trying to do my due diligence in figuring this out!
 

Azellia

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Hi, everyone. Another not so great update. All four birds are vomiting now. Also, one of them has developed a small brown spot on their cere, and I'm fairly confident they're male, so that's not great. I'm hoping it's discharge or a bruise or something more benign, but I don't know.

Out of curiosity, could goiter be mistaken for a squishy crop? An iodine deficiency is something I've asked vets about many, many times over the past few months, but I was always brushed off. My birds have had their blood tested, but I'm not sure if a vitamin panel was ever done. They're picky and mainly seed eaters, so an iodine deficiency would not be unusual. I know an iodine deficiency can cause sneezing, breathing difficulties, and vomiting.

Otherwise they may all very well have AGY.

I will likely be taking them to an emergency vet in the morning. My usual vet is closed tomorrow and I haven't had much luck with the emergency vet before, but we'll see what goes down.
 

Pixiebeak

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I'm so sorry to hear all of this!!!

I wonder if something crashed their immune systems that has led to all of this ?
 

Azellia

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That's kind of why I'm curious about a vitamin deficiency. That could potentially wreck their systems and make them more susceptible to other illnesses.

It may also be worth noting that, apart from seeds, my birds favorite foods consist mainly of cruciferous vegetables, which I just recently learned aren't great for thyroid health. They'd been getting stuff like kale, brocolli, collard greens every day for a while.

I'll probably ask for an X-ray tomorrow (to rule out tumors for the one bird) and, if the vet is willing, a vitamin panel. If the one bird has no tumors, I'll probably ask for oral or liquid iodine whether they do the panel or not.

And then I should hopefully hear back on the AGY test early next week.

If this is an iodine deficiency, I'll probably be a bit upset, since I've been asking about it for MONTHS. But an iodine deficiency would, I imagine, be much easier to treat and have a much better prognosis than AGY!
 

orphansparrow

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Gosh, I’m so sorry you’re going through all of this :sadhug2:It’s a lot! You are an incredible bird mom!
 
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