Birds have a very complicated sinus system (a part of the respiratory tract) with lots of interconnecting air pockets that can readily get infected. Infections can start in one site and move through the sinus system to attack most areas of the skull. A severe infection means that many affected birds will die without treatment.
What Does Sinusitis Look Like?
Birds that have swollen eyes or a discharge from the eye and nostril generally have a form of sinusitis. Any sort of nasal discharge, excessive sneezing, or swollen eyes suggests sinus involvement.
Birds with sinusitis often are obviously sick birds although they may just seem to sneeze a lot very early in the disease. As it progresses, they will be fluffed, lose their appetite, and sleep more than usual. Due to the structure of the eye and it’s placement over the sinus, anything that inflames the sinus will show as a swollen red runny eye.
What Sort of Things Cause Sinusitis?
Bacteria and viruses are the most common invaders of sinuses. Bacteria in particular cause the most severe disease. It is mainly bacteria that cause the hard cheesy material that builds up in the sinus. Sometimes these bacteria can be very resistant to antibiotics, which makes treatment very difficult. Chlamydophila will invade the sinuses readily and result in a bird with swollen red eye which the bird wipes on the perch. Mycoplasma also commonly invades the sinuses of different birds. There are some fungal infections which cause sinusitis but these are not common.
A lack of Vitamin A can cause changes to the lining of the sinus leading to a secondary infection with bacteria.
What Should You do for an Infected Bird?
Sinus infections may kill birds. An examination by a qualified veterinarian is needed to determine the underlying cause of the problem and the appropriate treatment.
Kevin Wright and Jay Johnson
Arizona Exotic Animal Hospital, LLC
744 N Center Street
Mesa, AZ 85203