Avian Tuberculosis (Avian Mycobacteriosis)
Tuberculosis is a common chronic disease in older wild and captive birds, accounting for up to 14 percent of avian deaths in many zoological parks with mixed species. Avian tuberculosis is more typically called avian mycobacteriosis. It generally does not cause the tubercles (nodules) characteristic of tuberculosis found in mammals. It is a chronic wasting disease characterized by weight loss, diarrhea, difficulty breathing, and tumors of the skin and eyes. Tumors may also affect the spleen, liver, lungs, air sacs, skin, and bone marrow. Mycobacteriosis is seen most frequently among parakeets, and members of the parrot family. It also commonly infected soft-billed birds include toucans, various finches, and pigeons. Cranes, waterfowl, poultry, rails, herons, and raptors. The disease is transmitted when fecal matter is consumed and waterfowl may get the infection through their eyes from contact with contaminated water. Tuberculous poultry flocks should be depopulated.
Avian tuberculosis can be transmitted to humans and is caused by the bacteria Mycobacterium avium which is closely related to the human and bovine tuberculosis bacteria. In birds, M. avium causes a chronic debilitating disease with tubercular nodules. In humans, M. avium infections can cause local wound infections with swelling of regional lymph nodes. The infection is most severe in immunocompromised individuals. M. avium is spread by ingestion of food or water contaminated by feces from infected birds. While most Mycobacterium infections are treatable with antibiotics, M. avium infection is the exception. It is highly resistant to antibiotics. Surgical excision and lymph node removal are often necessary to eliminate infection. However, I have found that the German isopathic remedy Mycobactin-S, made by the SanPharma company, provides excellent benefit, although it is too early to say that it cures the disease.