Bacterial infections can be a common problem in canaries. Bacterial infection in the most part relates to the environment and food being provided i.e. dirty conditions and contaminated food.
Immediate treatment is necessary to prevent severe illness and possible death as these infections progress rapidly in birds.

As mentioned above most birds that present with Bacterial problems are housed in unclean conditions where droppings have been allowed to build up, where seed is wet and where egg and biscuit or other soft foods have been left too long in the cage. Water which has become dirty/soiled is another source of bacterial infections.

Your bird may show droppings that change colour to green or become watery, because the ingested bacteria may irritate the bowel and damage the kidneys and liver. When bacteria are inhaled on dust it may produce sneezing, eye rubbing, excessive swallowing, yawning or coughing.
Immediate treatment is necessary to prevent severe illness and possible death as a bacterial infection can spread rapidly in birds. It is essential to consult a Veterinarian if you believe you have a bacterial infection. The only sure way to know, is with a culture, which is beyond the layman. If you have a single bird you can take your chances but if you have a large colony its not worth the risk.
There are several types of bacteria that affect birds, but the most common are E.coli, Citrobacter, Streptococci, Staphylococci & less common Megabacteria(1), Salmonellosis (Paratyphoid), Pseudotuberculosis.

Injections or antibiotic drops administered directly by mouth are recommended, although in less ill birds treatment through the drinking water can be affective or used to supplement the injection.
It is also recommended that all food & water is removed from the cage and the cage and all utensils are disinfected thoroughly.
Most bacterial infections are contagious from bird to bird by the droppings and water, but there is little chance of bacterial infections spreading from bird to humans. Campylobacter is a bacterial infection that may infect humans.
Bacterial infections are always related to the environment in which the bird is kept or contamination that enters its mouth. Infection does not mean that the bird is not cared for properly, but means that extra care must be taken to prevent recurrence.

(1) Megabacteria lives in the intestine. Scientists are not completely sure that this is a bacteria however until classified otherwise it will remain so. Can be treated using MEGABAC-S Water soluble Amphotericin-B by Vetafarm however the product is very expensive.
(2) The use of antibiotics kills the good bacteria as well as the bad bacteria. Therefore understanding the treatment and the need, is important before treatment is commenced.
(3) The use of Probiotics can be a useful alternative to antibiotics. see [ Probiotics ]

Bird Health - Dr Rob Marshall http://www.birdhealth.com.au
Vetafarm http://www.vetafarm.com.au - Megabacteria - Geoff Hemmings
Caged & Aviary Birds (UK) 15 & 22 February 1997- Tom Pennycott
Spanish Timbrado Canary http://www.timbrado.com/artbacteriasx.shtml - Brown Enrique Ortega


Published Joseph Gallea 15th July 2005