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E.coli in Young Birds

E.coli in Young Birds

Each young bird season we see an increase in disease involving the bacteria E.coli. E.coli is a normal inhabitant of the digestive system of pigeons. It has disease potential, but usually needs a predisposing condition to allow it the opportunity to cause infection. Several things can “open the door” for E.coli to cause disease.

Stress, viral infections, intestinal parasites, and other irritants f the bowel such as chemicals consumed while fielding. The usual predisposing factor for young birds is adenovirus. It begins appearing when birds are mixed, either in training, races or when accumulating birds from various sources.

The adenovirus by itself will not cause disease, but in the presence of E.coli, it allows the E.coli to cause disease. Treating the E.coli infection usually eliminates symptoms although it does nothing for the adenovirus infection; this is usually conquered by the birds own immune system with time. There is not an effective vaccine for adenovirus, so we must just let it run it’s course as we try to control the E.coli during outbreaks.

Usually during outbreaks of colibacillosis (E.coli infection), we use a broad spectrum antibiotic such as Amoxicillin to control it. Antibiotics will not prevent it so use them only during an outbreak. The symptoms usually include vomiting in some of the birds, abnormal droppings or diarrhea, and lethargy.

The birds will not train or race well during an uncontrolled outbreak. A fecal culture and sensitivity study will allow oneto choose the correct antibiotic to use. Often we just go with one that has a good “track record,” and that has little or no effect on the birds, allowing one to continue training, etc.

Amoxicillin is my first choice of antibiotics when “shooting from the hip”. It is gentle on the pigeon and is the least expensive of the good antibiotics. Use 3 Grams per gallon for about 7 days. Retreatment is often necessary, as things may deteriorate within the weeks after treating, as the viral infection spreads through the flock.

Do not forget not to use antibiotics as a preventive. They will not work as preventive, but will only allow the bacteria to become resistant to it, then it won’t work when we really need it.

E.coli in Young Birds by Dr. David E. Marx DVM

The Leading Online Pigeon Racing and Racing Pigeons Magazine – The Pigeon Insider

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3 thoughts on “E.coli in Young Birds

  1. Hi Dr Marx young bird sickness seems to getting worse every year i know a bird can get it being in contact
    with other birds or airborne I was told fennel tea helps after you medicate but what do you think the
    cause is it really is a talked about subject world wide among fanciers.I would really like your thoughts
    on this subject.I think it has been caused by using to many antibiotics blindly also fanciers using meds for preventive and like what is happening to people we are destroying the immune system
    causing super bugs Brad.

  2. To me young bird sickness is getting worse every year what can be done i know there is nothing but time to cure the problem but it can ruin a fanciers young bird season would like some response on this one Brad.

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