Diagnosing Macrorhabdiosis of Pet Birds in Practice

Macrorhabdiosis is a chronic infection of the bird’s stomach with yeast fungi. The prognosis must always be evaluated cautiously and an early diagnosis is essential.

The infection with the yeast Macrorhabdus ornithogaster, formerly known as megabacteriosis, has been detected in numerous bird genera. This also affects species that are often kept as ornamental birds and presented in small animal practices. It is always a chronic infection, the symptoms of which appear to be strongly dependent on additional diseases and other stress factors.

It is also known that causative microorganisms are transmitted from bird to bird. This is thought to occur through the fecal-oral route. Although various therapeutic approaches with antimycotics have been described, complete elimination of the pathogen does not seem possible and the prognosis is considered cautious to poor. The early confirmation of the diagnosis is all the more important for the small animal practitioner. An Australian research group recently investigated which method is most likely to succeed.

Diagnosing Macrorhabdus ornithogaster: microscopic detection of the pathogen in fecal samples

The scientists examined five different approaches to the microscopic detection of pathogens in fresh fecal samples. The samples examined came from a budgerigar herd in which cases of macrorhabdiosis had occurred. Of all the approaches used, the so-called micro-suspension technique enabled the clearest identification of the yeast fungi and resulted in the highest detection of individual organisms. This is probably due, among other things, to the reduced background contamination with this type of sample preparation. The latter consists of forming a suspension of the fecal sample with physiological saline and then removing the disc-shaped supernatant by pipetting. This can be examined microscopically for the pathogens.

Recommended: Examination of the feces using the micro-suspension technique

Given the low material costs and the quick feasibility, the macro micro-suspension unique appears to be quite practical. The high level of detectability and identifiability of the pathogen in this way gives hope for a good chance of confirming the diagnosis in suspected cases. This should contribute in particular to monitoring within the framework of stock management and be a cost-effective means of doing so. To what extent the test sensitivity of the micro-suspension technique can approach the results of the PCR method requires further investigation.

Frequently Asked Question

What are the symptoms of Macrorhabdus?

Symptoms of Macrorhabdus ornithogaster infection may be quite severe and often fatal. If your bird is suffering from this megabacteriosis, symptoms will include:

  • Weakness
  • Emaciation
  • Vomiting
  • Acute hemorrhagic gastritis
  • Lethargy
  • Diarrhea
  • Ruffled plumage
  • Regurgitation
  • Head bobbing
  • Death

Where do mega bacteria come from?

The so-called mega bacteria (megabacteriosis) are yeast fungi that colonize the gastrointestinal tract, including the crops of smaller parrots and finches. Budgies are particularly affected. The correct name is Macrorhabdus ornithogaster.

What food for mega bacteria?

If your budgerigar has contracted mega bacteria, it is important when choosing the food to ensure that the daily food mix does not contain any added sugar, honey, or other bakery products. Thyme and fennel have a particularly positive and health-promoting effect on the gastrointestinal tract.

Are megabacteria curable?

Unfortunately, curative therapy for megabacteriosis is not possible in most cases. The number of pathogens can be reduced with antifungal agents that are put into the beak. However, the therapy must be carried out for at least 10-14 days. Acidifying the drinking water can help with therapy.

What diseases can a budgie get?

Itchy pests: budgerigar mites and parasites

Budgies can get parasites even if they don’t live in an outdoor aviary. The birds indicate an infestation with feather lice by frantic scratching and cleaning as well as noticeable restlessness.

Where do trichomonads come from in budgerigars?

Trichomonads are teardrop-shaped flagellates whose swimming movements can be easily recognized under the microscope. The adult birds infect their nestlings via the crop milk. Even among adult budgerigars, transmission occurs through mutual feeding or drinking water.

What can budgies drink?

Tap water is always the best thing you can offer a budgie to drink. Drinking water from the water pipe can be calcareous, but that’s not a problem. On the contrary, the birds can cover their calcium needs with calcareous water.

Can budgies drink chamomile tea?

Precisely because of these bitter substances, chamomile tea is not necessarily one of the most popular varieties for birds. If the parakeets do not suffer from megabacteriosis or other yeast diseases, the drink can be sweetened with a little glucose, but it is not necessary.

Mary Allen

Written by Mary Allen

Hello, I'm Mary! I've cared for many pet species including dogs, cats, guinea pigs, fish, and bearded dragons. I also have ten pets of my own currently. I've written many topics in this space including how-tos, informational articles, care guides, breed guides, and more.

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