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Sick Baby


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Well, after a glowing physical and doing very well despite a recent move, Mar has gotten sick.


The history of his illness:

He had some unknown injury to his left leg. He and Megan were rough-housing on her veranda, flipping upside down and taking turns climbing up and biting at each other through the bars. They've done this since they were little so I did not think much of it. I don't know if she got a bit too rough and bit down on his leg too hard, but that night, I noticed he was not fully retracting it when sleeping, but rather just kind of laying his semi-curled toes against the perch. The next day, he had a bit of a limp. I decided to just have their yearly done early and made appointments for both at the vet. They treated him with meloxicam (NSAID) for inflammation and pain.


When he was still favoring the leg after his medication was done, I made another appointment. He had also started showing less interest in food and was losing weight. X-rays were done, they were unremarkable, and he was given another course of meloxicam.


The next day, he did not eat hardly anything for me. I panicked and called and they said to bring him by and they'd check him. The vet herself recommended hospitalizing him for feedings. I really didn't want to leave him there, but when I arrived, they'd had three other emergency walk-ins, and were not going to be able to see him until after closing time. I left without my baby and bawled my eyes out all the way home.


That evening, the vet called and said he had been eating non-stop since they put some food in his cage. He was eating Zupreem pellets and Harrison's pellets. (All the stuff he will NOT eat at home!) I am sure the vet thinks I am crazy or a liar. So I picked him up the next morning and took him home. They sent some formula home but said not to use it unless he stopped eating again.


He was eating, but food did not seem to be his main focus in life, as it had always been. He continued to lose weight, and Wednesday, he spit up on the bed and then began making an odd squeaky sound. I called again (by now I am sure they think I am crazy) and tried to explain the sound. They said possibly he could have aspirated, and gave me an appointment next morning. I took him in, and the vet said the lungs were clear, but was very concerned about his demeanor and his weight loss. She got his chart and began going over the tests and said "Everything was normal" then she mentioned his WBCs were at the high end of normal. I requested they run a new set of labs, and she did. He blessed the table with a nice stool sample, so she checked that as well and ran a urinalysis. All was fine. She gave me an antibiotic more as prophylaxis, just in case he had aspirated and said she'd call with the CBC results.


She called me today and said he WBCs were 30, when the normal is 10. She said often in Greys this indicates a fungal infection, which she said they were prone to. So today, I went back and picked up an anti-fungal medication to add to his regimen. And she reinstated the formula feedings. The first day, he loved it and ate it from a spoon. Today, he spit a lot of it out, and I wore most of it.


It has always amazed me how quickly a bird's health can turn around. It was the same way with Maks when he got sick. One day he was flying around the house like crazy, the next morning he is puffed up on his perch and quiet. (Maks is NEVER quiet - this was the only time).


I feel I have really good vets, but I still worry. She gave him a B12 shot yesterday, which made him perkier and more hungry. In fact, he flew off the play stand and landed in my dinner last night. (Feet first, then a beak... yum.) I will just feel much better when he is back to his old self.


I have been trying to figure out how he might have been exposed to a fungal infection. I keep the cages and play stands clean. They get fresh water bowls at least once a day, often more than that. I check their food constantly for freshness. The only thing I could think of was the humidifier, which I suspect due to me keeping the room so warm, had a few tiny spots of black around the rim of the water. I cleaned it immediately when I noticed it, and am going to start putting some lavender essential oil, just a drop or two, in to inhibit fungal and bacterial growth. Or perhaps I will just stop using it and use the steam cleaner and mop more often, as they really make it humid in the house.


Has anyone else been through this? Is there some route of exposure I may be overlooking? Any suggestions?




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As far as how, I have no clue but I have been through this with our macaw. He had such a bad infection when we brought him home, his nose was packed shut and his breathing was so labored i feared he wouldn't make it to the vet in the morning. After several rounds of antibiotics and the vet even putting him to sleep a few times to try and clear his nose out, he did not get better. This was between 2 avain vets (same office) I finally went to a third vet at a new location about 1 month into it and he stopped all meds and said to take him in the shower with us and to get an eye dropper and squirt the water into his nose to keep it moist so he would sneeze the gunk out. That is what worked. I did the humidifier thing this winter, but stopped using it last week for the fear of just what you said. I cleaned it daily but still, i wasn't about to take any chances. It is a tough one to go through and I hope to never have to do it again. Best wishes for you both!!

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It's good to hear the underlying cause of Mar's illness was found. Fungal infections can come from many things. Since it is a complex task to track down, I am pasting an article on this from the avian web. I suspect you may be correct about the humidifier. I use a fungicide in my humidifier.


The Below Article is Courtesy of Dr. Rob Marshall, Avian Vet - http://www.birdhealth.com.au



What is a fungal infection?

There are several types of fungi that affect humans and animals (including birds), but the most common is the
Aspergillus fungus
. This fungus is usually associated with seed, corn cobs, old food, humid areas, air conditioners, blow heaters and wet cages.

It also occurs in individuals that have a poor level of natural resistance or a damaged immune system. Your bird may show dropping changes, because the ingested fungus irritates the bowel. This fungus may also produce a toxin which causes
liver disease
. You may notice a dark green dropping when this occurs. When the fungus is inhaled it produces a squeaky voice, sneezing, coughing or breathing difficulties. Both the inhaled and ingested form are potentially life threatening. The culture test identifies the exact type of fungus, so we can identify where it has come from, how best to treat it and how to prevent it from recurring.

Loss of or changes in voice
are possible.

How is it treated? (Any treatment should be discussed with medical professional!)

An anti-fungal treatment must commence immediately, because this is a potentially life threatening disease. Fungilin is the medicine used to treat fungal infections. This should be given directly by mouth, or may sometimes be added to the drinking water.

As well, remove all seed, grit, seed bells and fruit, from the cage. Disinfect the cage with a Water Cleanser and start your bird on sterile seed. Dry heat may be advised in the form of a bar heater.

The above recommendations protect your bird from reinfection by killing or removing any fungal spores from the environment.

Are there any other special instructions?

Birds with fungal infections are often vitamin, mineral and protein deficient. To accelerate the healing process it is recommended that birds with fungal 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.

Following the fungicide treatment, Water Cleanser is given for 2 days, followed by Dufoplus and Ioford 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?

Fungal infections can damage the immune system and leave the individual susceptible to illness in the future. 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

- See more at: http://www.avianweb.com/fungalinfections.html#sthash.UsYyiwCU.dpuf

Edited by danmcq
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Well kudos to you for being and staying on top of things. I'm proud of you for not using the wait and see approach My guess would also be the humidifier, I keep mine on low for those very reasons, but also had 3-4 drops of grapefruit seed extract to the water every time I fill it. I also clean it regularly. I feel it's better to have dry air than the risk of fungus, mold, etc. IMO

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It is with an absolutely crushed and broken heart that I must reply that my baby boy did not pull through his illness. Despite numerous visits to the vet, two nights in the hospital, one at the regular vet and one at the emergency vet, he died Monday afternoon. He continued to get sicker and sicker despite the treatments. I think we caught the spike in WBCs far too late. At least, thank God, I had forgotten to bring his meds with me, and since he was going to be hospitalized, they suggested I bring them back and save from paying for a whole new prescription for each medication. I drove home and returned, and when I did, I asked to spend some time with him. He was weak and having trouble balancing.


He pulled a tiny fluff of white feather loose. I took it from him. Something said "Keep this as a memory." Within an hour he was gone. At least I was there with him but that is a very small consolation.


I have been beating myself up over and over. What did I do wrong? I tried my best to protect him and keep him healthy and I somehow failed and now he is gone.


I haven't stopped crying. The past few days have been a blur. I can barely function, but God has given me enough strength to take care of the rest of our babies.


I got the results of the necropsy, and it was worse than we feared. The fungal infection was systemic, affecting every system. We just caught it too late. I just wish I had insisted on a blood panel back on the 2nd. I think the reason they did not run one was because they had just done a full panel at their yearly, less than two weeks before. You'd better believe any of the other birds that shows even a sniffle is going to get a full work up every other day until well.


The humidifier is going to be trashed. If they need humidity, I will just steam-clean the floor. The CDC says that evaporative humidifiers do not put pathogens in the air, but I am not ever taking that chance again.


Thank you all for your advice, concern, and kind thoughts, but it may be a while before I am able to return to the forums. If it were not for our other babies, I think I would curl up and die of grief.

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Muse I am so sorry for your loss, they do go down so quickly and you had him in vet care very fast. Most folks would not have reacted as promptly and just had a sudden death, these birds are so very good at disguising their illnesses they can make it difficult to keep them safe. I know you are heartbroken so treasure those good memories and keep that close.

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Muse, I am in tears over your loss. I am so sorry, you did everything so fast to help him. YOU are certainly not to blame. Please know that time will lessen the pain, although you will never forget. You are always welcome and I hope to see you again in time here. Your family cares about you and your flock. YOU have much to share..

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Although he flew over the Rainbow Bridge much to soon, Mar had a great life! He was pampered & treasured & knew very little besides joy.


I am so very sorry he's gone. Even though this pain can only be eased by time, we all wish there were words that helped right now. But please believe that we all grieve with you & are here for whatever support we can offer.

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Muse, my heart just breaks for you and Megan. The sudden loss of Mar is such a sad, sad, shock. While it may be hard for you to check in here for awhile, please know that you are not alone while you face your grief and sadness. We can't remove the heartache you are suffering, although we all would do anything to ease it a bit. There are never any good answers that can soothe during such sad times, but when you are ready please allow us to surround with our love and support as you find your way back.

Edited by Inara
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I am so sorry for the loss of Marden. How is Megan doing? She will need you to help her cope with Mar's loss. Know that you did all you could and be strong. We are here for you.


The vet was really concerned about how Megan would react. We have been very blessed. She never stopped eating. She more subdued for a couple days, and she gives me the strangest look when I burst into tears (which is most of the time). But she has held up very well. She even napped on the recliner chair with me the other day. The worst part of all this is when she calls for him, which she did the first couple days. She would do her 'come here' whistle, then call "C'mere Mar" which would instantly bring on a bout of sobbing and tears. She hasn't said that for a couple days. I think she noticed its effect on me.


She has been far less bitey with me, and has even been affectionate, which she is normally not towards me.


I have been giving her all the attention I can, as well as special treats. I think we have been kind of therapeutic for each other. I know one thing, if she so much as sniffles, she will be getting a very thorough vet check.

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I want to thank all of you for the outpouring of comfort and love. I am still in 'doing just enough to get by' mode, crying a lot, and am spending a lot of time with Megan. We spent our week without daddy as he was traveling. It has been a very hard week.


The kind thoughts and prayers mean so much to me. Thank you all again. I will be back once I am functional again, I promise.

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That last reply was meant for everyone who posted. I have no idea why it threaded under Inara's post. I clicked "+Reply to Thread" and even "Go Advanced" to check and make sure it said I was replying to thread.


I do thank each and every one of you who posted. All the kind words and prayers are appreciated.

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For now just take good care of yourself. I am so sorry for your loss, it is much deeper than any of us could anticipate. Even when we found the cause of death with our first baby Juno, nothing eased the pain during the shock of it all. You know you took the best care of Mar and your flock. He had a charmed life and lived with more love in your home than many will ever know in a lifetime. You have the heartfelt compassion of everyone who knows the impact these unique companions imprint on our souls. He will always be with you and the pain will become bearable as time helps you past the profound grief.

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