by Candace Pezzuti

Giardia is a single celled, intestinal protozoan parasite. Giardi have been found to cause disease in birds, cats, dogs and even humans. One sure way for humans is eating sushi.

This parasite can be transmitted via the water supply. So be careful when traveling to a bird mart or a show out of town. You should always use bottled water for your birds.

Your own domestic drinking water may carry this parasite. It's always best to use bottled water when traveling, to drink, and for cleaning drinkers and feeders. The safest way to protect your birds is to boil their drinking water or use a reverse osmosis system in your home that filters the drinking water. This is not only good advice for your birds but for your own health as well.

Not only drinking water but any water that is used to clean out feeders, drinkers, etc can be contaminated, if the parasite exist in your water supply.

This parasite can exist in two forms in the blood. One is, trophozoite and the other is cysts traphozoite. The first form is the active form that moves by means of flagella. These parasites attach themselves to the small intestines. The second form are dormant cysts that can shed in the feces from an infected bird. These cyst can survive outside the host and infect other hosts (birds) without showing any symptoms.

All birds are susceptible to Giardia, but FLEDGINGS are the most susceptible. Here is where you will lose your fledgings, for no apparent reason. At about 8 weeks old they will SUDDENLY become sick, they will ruffle up, look sleepy and usually die within a 24-48 hour period. At this stage you will not be able to do anything to save them.

Diagnosis is hard to show through means of necropsy, tissue samples, blood work even electron microscopy will not reveal these parasites. But you can prevent this from happening during your next breeding season.

The treatment of choice is Metronidozole also called Flagyl. Pigeon breeders also use this anti-protozoa treatment for canker.

The Treatment consists of the following:

Use (6) 250 mg tablets crushed (use coffee grinder) to a gallon of distilled water. Always use distilled water when administering medication. Treat for 5 days. Then go off the treatment for a week ( 7 days). Then REPEAT the same process 2 times. So your birds are medicated for a total of 15 days with intervals between treatment times.

The reason for this is that the parasites and protozoa reproductive cycle varies at different stages so this way you are sure to get all of them. An antibiotic such as amoxicillin can be used together with the Metronidazole.

Whenever medicating your birds with medication in their drinking water MAKE SURE THEY ARE DRINKING THE WATER. Some birds can taste the difference in their water and will not drink. You will lose your birds because they stop drinking the water. Make sure you see ALL YOUR BIRDS DRINKING. This is good advice for any type of medication you give your birds. I prefer to add my medication in the egg food. I know they will eat it in the egg food especially if I add peas to it, they don't notice the taste of the medication.

If you did not experience any problems with the mortality of your fledgings then you do not have to use the treatment in the water but can add it to your egg food accordingly. Make sure the amount is not too strong depending on the amount of egg food each bird is given.

Prophylacticly, I use 6 tablets and 4 amoxicillin pills in my egg food ( appx 16 cups of egg food mixture) for 3 days; off a week then on again for another week, one month prior to breeding. This cleans out their system if they do have anything going on. PREVENTION IS THE KEY. ONCE A BIRD HAS AN ACTIVE INFECTION THE TREATMENT DOES NOT WORK IN MY EXPERIENCE.

As I mentioned in my opening paragraph this type of infection is more prominent then you may realize. People do have this condition and won't know unless they have an endoscopy performed. The treatment by the way is exactly the same except the dosage of course is larger.

This article is for information purposes only. I recommend you do your own reading and research on the subject. The author will not be held responsibble for anything relating to this article.

This information is from my own experience and research. If you have any problems you should consult your veteranian.

Metronidazole can be obtained by different sources. Most pigeon suppliers carry it such as Siegel's, Jedd's and Global. Thomas Laboratories also has it. For your convenience call 800-359-8387 or visit their website. I do not recommend any particular supplier but offer this information for your convenience.

Remember the full name is Metronidazole also called Flagyl or Fish Zole.

Respectfully submitted by Candace Pezzuti.