Bacterial Infection of Small Intestines in Birds

By PetMD Editorial on Jun. 27, 2008

Avian Clostridial Disease

In birds, clostridial disease is a bacterial infection of the small intestines. However, it can affect multiple body organs, depending on the specific clostridial bacteria involved.

Symptoms and Types

Symptoms are dependent on the type of clostridial bacteria, but it can affect various organs in the bird's body. Generally, clostridial bacteria infects the bird's small intestines and produces a toxin. This toxin is responsible for many of the symptoms, including a rapid deterioration of health, loss of appetite, weight loss, listlessness, bloody feces or undigested food.

Even after the bird is cured of bacterial infection, the toxin will remain in the bird’s body -- causing the symptoms to continue.


Clostridial disease infects a bird by coming in contact with contaminated food and water, spores or bacteria (usually by breathing them in), and contaminated surfaces like cages, utensils and nest boxes.

Birds can also contract the disease through infectious wounds. Many times, it will be through an injured or traumatized cloaca. The cloaca is the body part where urine, feces and urates are stored before being eliminated out of the bird's body. (This mode of infection is usually seen in birds with cloacal prolapse or papillomatosis).


The veterinarian will perform fecal and other tests on the infected bird, and treat accordingly with antibiotics.


Clostridial disease in birds can be prevented with few simple precautions.

  • Create a stress-free environment
  • Avoid overcrowding a bird's living space
  • Give the bird fresh air and good ventilation
  • Give your bird a well-balanced, nutritional diet
  • Store bird feed in a hygienic location
  • Disinfecting the bird's living environment regularly

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