Report into an investigation of a suspected case of psittacosis in a cockatiel at a roadhouse in Central Australia

A notification was received from a member of the public with wildlife expertise who had visited a roadhouse in Central Australia in late March 2017, advising that three cockatiels in an aviary cage of 25 were exhibiting clinical signs consistent with psittacosis – a significant zoonoses. A photograph of the most severely affected bird was provided, showing the bird ’fluffed up‘ and depressed, with stained plumage and one eye swollen and partially closed, indicating conjunctivitis and possible sinusitis.

At a follow-up visit by the regional veterinary officer, the most severely affected bird was euthanised for necropsy. Gross necropsy revealed caseous conjunctivitis involving both eyes. Histopathology showed a marked squamous metaplasia of lacrimal duct and nasal mucosae, with massive intraluminal accumulation of keratin. There were no notable gross or histological findings in other tissues. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing of pooled cloacal, tracheal and ocular swabs from the euthanased and the two other affected birds excluded influenza type A, Newcastle Disease Virus and Chlamydiacae bacteria.

A diagnosis of hypovitaminosis A was made, and the owner was given advice to change the birds’ diet. No further losses have been reported.

cockatiel with hypovitaminosis A

Figure 3 cockatiel with hypovitaminosis A

Last updated: 16 October 2017