Candidiasis (Candida Albicans)

By Kellie Stewart

 

SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS

  • Vomiting and weight loss.
  • Slow crop emptying in nestlings and hand reared chicks.
  • Diarrhea with sweet odor.
  • May effect crop, intestines, eyes, and lungs.
  • White plaques in mouth.
  • Crop may feel thickened.
  • Lorikeet chicks are more prone to candida.
  • Loss of appetite in the later stages.
  • Lethargy.

Adult birds will act as normal, and continue to eat and play the same way. The first sign is usually vomiting, and slow crop emptying, followed by any of the above symptoms. This is a disease that is caused by yeast, which mainly affects the mouth and crop. Hand reared birds are usually prone, as we carry it on our hands. A general level of hygiene is to be maintained in the brooder, and the bird room. Always wash hands before handling the chicks. The infection is highly contagious, so infected birds, both chicks and adults should be kept away from the healthy ones. In older birds candida is often a secondary infection due to prolonged antibiotic treatment. In this case it would help to give a plain natural acidophilus yogurt during the treatment of antibiotics to help maintain a healthy gut flora. A healthy gut flora appears to be wiped out by some antibiotics, making it easier for the yeast to take hold.

TREATMENT

Quarantine any sick birds. Keep the bird hydrated with some form of electrolytes. These can be purchased at your local chemist. Keep the bird warm in a hospital cage or brooder. Micostatin is the most commonly used drug to treat candida, and is available from the chemist, it is used for yeast infections in children. Dose rate is 15,000 units for a bird weighing 50 grams, administered 3 times daily. Treatment is maintained 3 days after all signs are gone. This illness can make a bird lose itís appetite, and to vomit quite severely, along with diarrhea. This causes rapid dehydration, and you will lose the bird because of this. If you are able to crop needle electrolytes safely, it would be a good idea to do this as well. Give the bird small amounts of food with Ĺ teaspoon of acidophilus yogurt. Administer through a crop needle after 24 hours of hydration treatment, until the bird is eating well again for itself. It will take several days for the treatment to take effect and the symptoms to disappear completely depending on the severity of the illness, and the age of the bird. In most circumstances it pays to get professional advice to determine the type of illness before treating. Some fungal treatments can make bacterial infections increasingly worse, and vice versa.  Sweet substances such as honey and nectar mixes feed fungal and yeast infections. Keep away from these things if you are treating a bird for candida, as it will make the infection worse.

PREVENTION

  • Remove old food from the flights.
  • Keep water clean.
  • Insure vitamin A intake is adequate.
  • Maintain a general level of hygiene when handling and hand rearing.
  • Swab chickís mouths with water or vitamin A solutions after hand feeding, especially with lorikeets. Rinsing the mouth out after a feed gets rid of any food left in the mouth, so it canít promote fungal growth.
  • 4 ml of cider vinegar per litre of declorinated water can be used when mixing hand-rearing food, or for drinking water. The vinegar to use is called mother of vinegar, it has a cloudy appearance, and can be purchased at most health food shops
  • Do not leave fruit out for long periods. Rotting fruit often has high fungal and yeast levels.
  • Hot humid weather provides good breeding conditions for candida. Keep a close eye on your birds in summer.

SEEKING YOUR VETS ADVICE

This is very important, especially if you are a beginner in the field of keeping birds. A bird vet will be able to assist you in proper diagnosis. As I mentioned before, treating for fungal when it is bacterial, and vice versa can be very detrimental to your bird. This article is a basic guideline if you are unable to get help straight away. The sooner this condition is identified the better it would be for the complete recovery of your bird. To find a good vet that specializes in birds is hard to come by in New Zealand. Vets have assisted me when I have come up against problems. Even though I have had birds for 10 years, I would still consult the advice of my avian vet.