Bacterial Diseases in Birds

By PetMD Editorial on Jun. 27, 2008

Avian Bacterial Diseases

Birds are susceptible to various kinds of bacterial diseases -- usually caused by a lack of hygiene or stress -- but some birds have genetic immunity and instead become carriers of these diseases, able to infect other birds.

However, there are times carrier birds can become sick if they are faced with infection triggers like age (very young or old birds), ill health due to other infections or diseases, environmental or emotional stress, or anything else that temporarily lowers a bird’s immunity to bacteria.

Symptoms and Types

Symptoms for a bird will depend on the type of bacteria, its location in the body and the organs it is affecting. Common symptoms in most bacterial diseases include listlessness, weight loss and loss of appetite.

More specifically, stomach infections show digestive symptoms, such as a lack of appetite, and diarrhea. Liver infections display digestive and urinary problems. Lung infections can affect and lead to breathing difficulties, nasal discharges, and eye infections. Finally, nervous system infections will cause tremors and seizures in birds.


There are many bacteria which cause infections in birds. Among them: E. coli, Pseudomonas, Aeromonas, Serratia marcescens, Salmonella, Mycobacteria, Clostridia, Klebsiella, Enterobacter, Proteus, Citrobacter, Pasteurella are all species of bacteria which affect birds.

Pasteurella bacteria is found in animals -- like cats or rats -- and they pass on the infection to the bird through biting. Some common bacterial infections in birds are avian tuberculosis (mycobacteriosis), psittacosis (chlamydiosis or parrot fever), and clostridial diseases.


The veterinarian will test the infected bird, and diagnose the bacteria causing the infection. The treatment will then consist of antibiotics either by food, water or injection, and relieving the stress of the infected bird. The bird's environment needs to be thoroughly cleansed, as well.


The following are a list of precautions which should help prevent bacterial disease in your bird.

  • Quarantine any new bird
  • Do not overcrowd birds
  • Avoid creating stressful environments
  • Keep the bird's living area well ventilated
  • Provide a nutritionally balanced diet
  • Store feed hygienically
  • Regularly disinfect cage, utensils and nest boxes
  • Maintain regular veterniary visits for your bird

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