Macaw Asthma in Birds

By PetMD Editorial on Jul. 1, 2008

Macaw Respiratory Hypersensitivity

Macaw Respiratory Hypersensitivity (or Macaw Asthma) is a lung and airway disease which causes an allergic reaction in the bird. Blue and gold macaws are especially prone to this condition.

Symptoms and Types

Birds with Macaw Asthma will display similar symptoms to other respiratory illnesses. Some include: nasal discharge and difficulty breathing, which may lead to permanent lung damage. Allergic birds are also more prone to have a Macaw Asthma relapse.



Macaw Asthma can be due to many reasons. One common cause for this condition is a reaction to the powder down produced by the feather dust of birds, such as cockatoos and African Grey parrots. However, not all macaws are allergic to the powder down.


Before diagnosing Macaw Asthma, the veterinarian must rule out other bacterial, fungal or viral respiratory infections. Afterwards, lung X-rays and a blood cell count are done because with Macaw Asthma will have an increase in its white blood cells.

The veterinarian may also do a tracheal wash to see if any other respiratory disease are present. If necessary, a lung biopsy is sometimes needed to diagnose Macaw Asthma.


To assist the bird in respiration, the veterinarian will give it immediate supplemental oxygen, anti-inflammatory drugs and glucocorticoids. You also need to change the air filters, as well as maintain good ventilation, in order to relieve Macaw Asthma in allergic birds.

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