following the posting by L + L Knight I thought I'd post this article. There
are guidelines for helping prevent the disease and general good housekeping
practice for anyone with feeders.
All the best, Andy Adcock, UK
Garden Bird Health initiative - Trichomoniasis
Trichomonas gallinae is a single cell parasite that can cause a disease known as
trichomoniasis in British birds.
Trichomoniasis typically affects pigeons and doves in the UK. It can also
affect birds of prey
that feed on pigeons and doves that are sick with the condition. The common
name for the
disease in pigeons and doves is "canker" and in birds of prey the disease is
Since summer 2005, disease caused by a Trichomonas parasite has also been seen
species. As far as we are aware, this is the first time that this has
greenfinches and chaffinches are the species that have been most frequently
finch species and house sparrows are susceptible to the disease.
An increase in the number of reported disease outbreaks in finches thought to
be caused by
trichomonas has occurred during and following the recent spell of hot weather
in July 2006.
Trichomonas typically causes local sites of infection to develop at the back of
the throat and
In addition to showing signs of general illness, for example lethargy and
affected birds may drool saliva, regurgitate food, have difficulty in
swallowing or show laboured
breathing. Finches are frequently seen to have matted wet plumage around the
beak. In some cases, swelling of the neck may be visible from a distance. The
progress over several days or even weeks, consequently affected birds are often
Trichomonas is vulnerable to desiccation and cannot survive for long periods
outside the host.
Transmission of infection between birds is most likely to be by birds feeding
one another with
regurgitated food during the breeding season; through food or drinking water
with recently regurgitated saliva, or possibly, from droppings of an infected
Risk to human and domestic animal health:
Trichomonas gallinae is a parasite of birds and does not pose a health threat
to humans or
mammals such as dogs and cats. The parasite has the potential to affect captive
However, garden birds in the UK may carry other diseases that can affect humans
for example Salmonella, Campylobacter and E.coli bacteria. The GBHi recommends
sensible hygiene precautions as a routine measure when feeding garden birds and
bird feeders and tables. Following these rules will help avoid the risk of any
transmitting to people and help safeguard the birds in your garden against
? Clean and disinfect feeders/ feeding sites regularly. Suitable disinfectants
that can be
used include a weak solution of domestic bleach (5% sodium hypochlorite) and
specially-designed commercial products (See Further information). Always rinse
thoroughly and air-dry feeders before re-use.
? Brushes and cleaning equipment for bird feeders, tables and baths should not
for other purposes and should not be brought into the house, but be kept and
outside and away from food preparation areas.
? Wear rubber gloves when cleaning feeders and thoroughly wash hands and
afterwards with soap and water, especially before eating or drinking. Avoid
sick or dead birds directly.
Diagnosis: Diagnosis of trichomoniasis in wild birds relies on post mortem
signs of the disease at post mortem are fairly characteristic, and a variety of
tests can be used
to confirm presence of the parasite.
If you wish to report finding dead garden birds, or signs of disease in garden
call the Garden Bird Health initiative on 0207 449 6685.
Whilst medicines are available for treatment of trichomoniasis in captive
birds, effective and
targeted dosing of free-living birds under field conditions is not possible.
Where a problem with trichomoniasis exists, general measures for control of
disease in wild
bird populations should be taken:
? Ensure optimal hygiene at garden bird feeding stations, including
? Consider leaving bird baths with standing water empty for a short period.
particularly vigilant to provide clean drinking water on a daily basis.
? Feeding stations encourage birds to congregate, sometimes in large densities,
increasing the potential for disease to spread between individuals when
occur. Where large numbers of birds are sick or dying, consider significantly
or stopping feeding for a short period (around 2 weeks). The reason for this is
encourage birds to disperse, thereby minimising the chances of new birds
affected at the feeding station. Gradually reintroduce feeding, monitoring for
signs of ill health.
Following best practice for feeding garden birds is recommended to help control
transmission of disease at feeding stations all year round.
? Routine good table hygiene (See Further information).
? Provision of clean and fresh drinking water on a daily basis.
? Provision of fresh food from accredited sources.
? Rotate positions of feeders in the garden to avoid build up of contamination
in any one
area and pay particular attention to clearing food remains that fall beneath
Best feeding practices should be followed at all times to help ensure that the
birds visiting your
garden remain healthy. More information can be found in the GBHi booklet
Birds - Best Practice Guidelines" and in the accompanying GBHi leaflet. Details
of how to
obtain these publications are available on the GBHi page of the UFAW website
www.ufaw.org.uk. Tel: 01582 831818
* Pennycott, T.W., Lawson, B., Cunningham, A.A., Simpson, V., Chantrey, J.
(2005) Necrotic ingluvitis in wild
finches Veterinary Record 157, 360
* Holmes, P., Duff, P. (2005) Ingluvitis and oesophagitis in wild finches
Veterinary Record 157, 455
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