The following information has been provided by Dr. Rob Marshall, Avian Vet

What is a bacterial infection?
There are several types of bacteria that affect birds, but the most common are E.coli, Citrobacter, Strep and Staph. These bacteria are usually associated with water, sand, grit, seed, old food, humid areas, dusty spots and wet cages. Bacterial infections also occur in birds that have a poor level of natural resistance or a damaged immune system.

Your bird may show droppings that change color to green or become watery, because the ingested bacteria may irritate the bowel and damage the kidneys and liver. When bacteria are inhaled on dust it may produce sneezing, eye rubbing, excessive swallowing, yawning or coughing. Loss of or changes in voice are possible.

Both inhaled and ingested bacterial infections are potentially life threatening when left unattended. The culture test identifies the exact type of bacteria, so that we can determine where it has come from, how best to treat it and how to stop it from recurring.

How is it treated?
The best choice of antibiotic is determined from the culture test. Injections or antibiotic drops administered directly by mouth are recommended for bird species that do not drink much water or are very ill. Others can be treated through the drinking water but it is vital that you watch to see that your pet is actually taking the medicine.

It is best to remove all seed, grit, seed bells and fruit from the cage and disinfect it, along with any utensils, with a Water Cleanser. You should also start your birds on sterile seed at this stage. Do not leave your bird out of the cage unattended. Until a full recovery it must stay on you, in or on the cage and not be allowed to wander around the house. The above recommendations protect your bird from reinfection by killing or removing any harmful bacteria from the environment since your ill bird is more susceptible to infections now than when it was healthy.

Possible Treatment for mycoplasma (To be discussed with vet):

  • Baytril is licensed but often doesn’t cope well with field strain
  • Tylan Soluble is good in birds under 12 weeks old but less good in adults (Tiamutin and ionophores are toxic)
  • Tylan 200 injection is not licensed but 0.5ml in breast muscle of large fowl will control it, repeat in 48 hours if still noisy then cull if no improvement


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    Are there any other special instructions?
    To accelerate the healing process I recommend that all birds with bacterial infections be given Turbobooster, Energy supplement and Fvite on the sterile seed daily for three weeks and then three times a week after this time (see attached instruction sheet). Following the antibiotic treatment, Dufoplus and Ioford are given twice weekly in the drinking water. Ensure your bird is actually eating and drinking. If not, it will need special force feeding in hospital. (Avianweb Note: or by someone experienced / trained in proper force feeding procedures).

    Are there any long term problems?
    Certain bacteria can harm the liver and kidneys and leave the bird susceptible to illness in the future. Understand the origin of your bird’s illness. To protect your bird from repeat infections follow the health programme in the accompanying brochure and use a Water Cleanser as part of the weekly health programme.

    Is this disease contagious to human or other birds?
    Most bacterial infections are contagious from bird to bird by the droppings and water, but there is little chance of bacterial infections spreading from bird to humans. Campylobacter is a bacterial infection that may infect humans.

    Can bacterial infections be prevented from recurring?
    Bacterial infections are always related to the environment in which the bird is kept or contamination that enters its mouth. Infection does not mean that the bird is not cared for properly, but means that extra care must be taken to prevent recurrence. From the results of the culture tests Dr. Marshall is able to explain the origins of each infection and can advise you on prevention programmes.

    E.coli Contaminated food old fruit, fluctuating temperatures, draught, stress, wet areas, fungus infection, dirty cages
    Strep Cold stress, underlying virus infection (Polyomavirus), dusty environment, poor seed, stress
    Staph Dust, mice, stress, poor seed, contaminated air conditioning or dusty environment
    Diplococcus Mice, stress
    Citrobacter Poor water hygiene
    Mucoid Poor water hygiene (eg. bathroom grout and seal around sink)
    Pseudomonas Poor water hygiene

    Holistic Approaches:

    Goldenseal Herb:

    Strong antibiotic properties. It has a long history of use in infections including bacterial, viral, fungal, and parasitic. Staph, strep, E. coli, Vibrio cholera, Giardia lamblia,and even tuberculosis bacterium have proven sensitive to this herb.

    Echinacea Herb:

    Kills a broad range of disease-causing pathogens, including: viruses, bacteria, fungi and protazoa.

    Licorice Root:

    Antibacterial, antiviral and anti-inflammatory. In one Japanese study, strains of Staphylococcus aureus that proved resistant to penicillin and streptomycin were inactivated by licorice root extract. (Ref.:

    Article: Why is Lactobacillus so important to your bird’s health?Bacterial and Viral DiseasesSalmonella Carriage, Fowl Cholera, Necrotic Enteritis, Ulcerative Enteritis (Quail Disease) – The Poultry Site, Pullorum Disease, Fowl Typhoid, Botulism, Infectious Coryza, Omphalitis, Erysipelas

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        Information contained on this website is provided as general reference only. For application to specific circumstances, professional advice should be sought.