Monday, April 20, 2009

Quarantine

Any of you who know me personally, know that I am a staunch advocate of only a few things... and quarantine happens to be one of them!

Below is a revision of an article I posted on Birds of a Feather forum. Please bear with me as today's post takes a bit more of a serious tenor. I've included plenty of interesting links to further reading materials if anyone would like more detailed information. Tomorrow we will return to the usual fun and frivolity of Fort Living!

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Quarantine is a practice recommended by veterinarians, reputable breeders and bird advocacy and rescue organizations such as The Gabriel Foundation, of segregating a new flock member from the existing flock for a period of 30-90 days to ensure that the new bird does not transmit
infectious disease to the existing flock.

Is quarantine really necessary if the new bird looks fine?
Yes. Birds hide illness exceptionally well as a part of their innate survival mechanism. More often than not, a disease is passed from bird to bird before the infected bird shows any symptoms. In some instances, a bird may be a carrier and never show any symptoms or become ill, but has the ability to shed the virus and transmit it to other birds. Adjusting to a new home and family has its associated stresses, stress reduces immune system function, and conditions are ripe for the development of disease that was previously harbored without symptoms.

Is it still necessary to quarantine if the pet store gives me a health guarantee or a 30-day money back guarantee?
Yes, it is still necessary. Although a vet may certify a bird has been tested for the major bird diseases (such as psittacosis and psittacine beak and feather disease [PBFD]), the bird could be harboring other diseases. Psittacosis, a disease transmissible from birds to humans, has been found in birds at three pet store chains. Again, as mentioned above, the stress of adjusting to a new home presents favorable conditions for development of harbored disease. If you buy a bird that is sick, the pet store may return your money, but they will not pay for the vet bills to treat the rest of your flock. The risk of illness or death is too great a price to pay.
Article: Psittacosis Found in Birds at Three Pet Store Chains
Article: Disease Leads PetSmart to Suspend Bird Sales in 46 States
MS-NBC News Report on Pet Smart

If I get my bird from a breeder, is it still necessary to quarantine?
This would depend upon the breeder's practices. If the breeder has a Closed Aviary, that would reduce the odds of disease, but it would still be prudent to quarantine. Additionally, o
btaining a bird, from a private home or rescue, that has been vaccinated against the polyoma virus and has tested negative for PBFD still does not guarantee complete health or give reason to avoid quarantine.

Quarantine Tips:
  • Plan in advance for quarantine procedures and the new flock member's arrival.
  • Place the new flock member in a separate cage, in a separate room as far away from the rest of the flock as possible, and preferably in a room with a separate air conditioning/heating system if at all possible.
  • Wash your hands after handling the new bird or any item of the new bird (food dishes, toys, etc.). Ideally, change clothes as well. Certain diseases are airborne and can be transmitted on clothing and shoes.
  • Do not share items such as toys, food dishes and perches between your new and existing flock members.
  • Commit to quarantine for the entire recommended period of time. The health and life of your existing flock rests in the balance. Do not end quarantine early due to inconvenience or impatience.
  • At the end of quarantine, take your new flock member for a well-bird check up to establish a relationship with your avian vet.
  • Do not rely on a pet store vet health certificate as proof of health and a reason to not quarantine.
  • Do not rely on a bird "looking fine" as an assurance of health.
  • Do not believe that because you have not quarantined in the past, and your flock has never gotten sick, that this will always be the case in the future. It takes only one sick bird to sicken, or kill, an entire flock.
  • Do not abandon quarantine early because of an inadvertent breach of quarantine. The longer the exposure to contagious disease, the more likely transmission will occur. Return to the previous quarantine conditions immediately.
So if you are considering a flock addition, please quarantine! It is an act of love.

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