RE: Throat Worms 2 (again)

Subject: RE: Throat Worms 2 (again)
From: Pat Macwhirter <>
Date: Tue, 8 Dec 1998 08:02:34 +1100

Addendum to my previous post:

Spiuroids would also be a possibility and probably fit your description better than the species I suggested. I haven't diagnosed these in Melbourne but Sydney avian practitioners report them. I'll try to chase up some more information. Did the vet who examined the bird give the parasites a name?


Dear Mauro,

What you are describing sounds like gapeworm (Syngamus sp) or Capillaria. The former usually appears pink and chubby, the later white and fine. They can be easily distinguished microsopically by their eggs or adult morphology. With Syngamus the male and female are permanently attached in a Y shape, with the male being the smaller branch.

Both species are usually killed by ivermectin ug/kg, note microgram, a very low dose) or levamisole mg/kg) or fenbendazole (Panacur). I usually use half or a third of the recommended dose initially as fatal repiratory obstruction can occur if all of the parasites are killed at once. Resistant strains are possible (especially for Capillaria to ivermectin).

These parasites are not transmissible to humans. Earthworms or invertebrates may act as intermediate hosts. Capillaria is common in parrots but usually is found further along the gastrointestinal tract rather than in the pharnyx. In Melbourne, gapeworm is common in ravens, blackbirds and thrushes but I've never diagnosed it in any of the Psittaciformes, probably because they don't usually eat earthworms. Neither have I ever diagnosed it in a silver gull, again probably because gulls don't relish worms either.

I suggest you contact Pin Needham, Ian Hough or David Schultz as South Australian vets working with birds. Check with the Australian Veterinary Association for contact details.

Good luck,


Patricia Macwhirter BVSc (Hons), MA, FACVSc (Bird Medicine)
Highbury Veterinary Clinic, 128 Highbury Road, BURWOOD, VICTORIA, AUSTRALIA
Ph: (03) 9808 9011 Fax: (03) 9888 7134

>Hi Chris,
>Your response if the first. The bird actually has little worms about half a
>centimetre long attached to the lining of its mouth and throat and under its
>tongue, like little hairs. We have since been in touch with a Vet who says
>there is no medication available and they have to be removed a few at a time
>over a long period of time (months) with a pair of tweezers. It makes the
>bird very sore, but unless it is done this way it will eventually die from
>the obstruction. Manual removal is apparently relatively successful.
>I wonder if over this period of time the bird will bond to my daughter or if
>it will be glad to get going.

>> Hi Mauro
>> I am not a vet and I do not know if you have had any replies yet.
>> I
>> sympathise with you for this poor bird and yourselves. Could it be that
>> the
>> bird has something stuck in it's gullet and the worms are feeding on the
>> obstruction?
>> Or is the bird flyblown?
>> good luck
>> Chris
>> >Hi all,
>> >Just thinking about that young magpie with worms attached to the lining
>> of
>> >its mouth and throat. Perhaps it was starving because the parents did
>> not
>> >want to feed it knowing that it was infected. It probably is contagious
>> and
>> >they know it.
>> >Does anybody know if other birds such as parrots get these throat worms?
>> >If it is contagious and seagulls get it, chances are that it could spread
>> >very quickly because the way that they steal each others food.
>> >cheers
>> >Mauro
>> >
>> >> Mauro M. Maurovic
>> >> Project Director - Millennium Project
>> >> Manager, Customer Relations Unit
>> >> Dept of Human Services - Health Sector
>> >> *
>> >> * P.O. Box 65, Rundle Mall, ADELAIDE, SA 5000, Australia
>> >> * 61-8-8226 7342 Fax 61-8-8226 7341
>> >> Mb. 015 61 66 88
>> >>
>> >
>> >

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