THREADWORM (Capillaria spp.):

These are hair-like worms of the intestinal tract, parasitizing various levels from the crop to the small intestine. There are many species of Capillaria and these vary from only 1 to 8 cm. in length, most being at the lower end of the range, with males smaller than females. The eggs, which are roughly oval with a plug at each end, pass out in the droppings and develop in about a month to a stage infective to other birds. An intermediate host may be required for some species. The worms can flourish in most climates and have a worldwide distribution.

A light infestation is tolerated well by adult birds of most species. Under favorable conditions for the parasites, such as bad sanitation and overcrowding, heavy populations of infective larvae can build up and mild or serious outbreaks of disease can occur. Light infestations may present signs of indigestion, dullness, poor appetite, regurgitation of food, and soft droppings. In severe cases, the inflammation of the gut may be so severe that parts of its lining mucous membrane may separate, producing slimy, yellow or bloody diarrhea. Such birds, rapidly become mopy, emaciated and anaemic, and are likely to die.

Many wild birds harbor Capillaria worms and by perching on the netting over the aviaries, contaminate the aviary floor with their droppings. However, close attention to hygiene can limit infestations to a low level. Severe outbreaks may occur in pigeons, which is understandable since they have more access to food and land outside their home premises. Gamebirds and waterbirds are also commonly affected and occasionally birds of prey kept by falconers. The more "natural" the aviary, the more liable are the inmates to become infested owing to the build-up of parasites in the soil and vegetation.

Treatment and control:
As with all roundworm infestations, strict attention to hygiene is essential to stop build-up of the parasites. It should be remembered that helminth ova require damp and warm conditions in order to develop. In heated indoor aviaries therefore, it is particularly important to prevent leakage or spillage on the floor from drinking vessels. Damp areas around water receptacles contaminated with droppings provide ideal conditions for the parasites. Capillariasis can be treated with levamisole hydrochloride or tetramisole by mouth.


E-Mail: berniehansen@sympatico.ca



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Hamilton & District Budgerigar Society Inc.