Aspergilliosis - The Silent Threat

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Aspergilliosis - The Silent Threat

It was just a common day for our family. I left my home for some hours in the morning and came back around lunch time. My Bird Timneh Grey in the morning was just in usual mode and no signs were talking that something may be wrong. I came home without any panic feeling about my birds but when I saw that my grey is lying with stomach on the bottom of her cage and she breathed very hard - my heart just stopped to beat for a while as I was sure my bird was dying. It was shocking moment as my Timneh was my first bigger size bird and for a 8 years we had no problems with her health. Therefore it seemed that nothing bad can happen with my bird but I was wrong until this disease catch her. Estonians have a proverb; the accident never call before it comes, and it is absolutely true.

I was sure she die and I did not believed that I can help her but the destiny had for us different plans. I looked into my bird eyes, she lay on one side now breathed very hard but her eyes were clear. I opened window a lot to have a more air in room and started to call to veterinary clinics to ask for help. We live in the capital city of the Estonian country but we have only few vets who can help birds and the pity thing is that they are not always available when your bird need a quick help! Here it is like lottery – if you have luck, you will get the number to the vet visit, if not then further fate is in God hands. Like we was. That day was pre-holiday day as on next day we had Independence Day and all veterinary clinics who can treat birds were finished their work up to that time. I was in real trouble. I called to Pet Emergency and kindly asked to take as for a visit. At the beginning they said „No“ to us as they have not much experience with parrots and they suggested to turn us to the bird vet. I said that we have no place to go and asked again to try to help my bird. On the phone was very kind doctor who agreed to take us and offer oxygen chamber for our emergency case. The vet said that they will contact some other vet to have advice what to do in this case. I looked quickly for a box to put my bird in and we drove to the Pet Emergency Hospital. All this time I prepared myself to be ready for the saddest thing to loose my first Grey. It was very painful feeling.

When we came to hospital our vet tried to hear my bird lungs but he stopped to touch her as she was in really bad condition. Vet said it looks like far developed pneumonia and said it is hard to believe that this case happened suddenly. He asked much questions after he put my bird into oxygen chamber and I was supposed to prove that I am not a beginner and I can recognize if bird had illness symptoms earlier as I have treating experience with smaller birds. Vet went to consult with his colleagues by phone from other town to get more information for further treatment. I was supposed to wait in hallway and for me it was the longest time ever to wait for a news. Later they allowed to come to look at her. They usually do not allow people to Emergency area but in our case they did exception. Oxygen worked good and made my bird breathing better. They tried to weight her to supply right antibiotics quantity and said that after quick weight procedure she fell again on stomach and breathed very hard. Seemed that she can not suffer without oxygen help. They said it is very hard case and said that possibly they can not help us. I came near to her against to oxygen chamber and she saw me. Her head was hold on bottom of the chamber but she looked at me and tried to communicate as she do her flock call. That voice I will never forget. She was so weak and her voice was like coming from under ground so quiet but she tried to let me know that she is here and she sees me. After looking at her they asked to leave that room and wait in the hallway as there were much other animals and next procedures waited for their work. They put my bird on the antibiotic, Beatryl (AB). And she must stay in hospital at night. We went home in evening and for me it was so empty feeling that I was supposed to leave her in the hospital. They asked to bring some food for her and informed to call in the late evening. I called before midnight and other vet was on the phone who said that condition at the moment is stable but not better and oxygen keep working. Vet said that patient with respiratory difficulties is always the hardest patient and said that they try to do all what is possible and what they can but I must be ready for the worse. I tried to sleep but it was impossible and fragmentary. I saw a dream that my bird died at 4 A.M. I woke up so scared and shocked and I realized how hard it is to me. I hoped very much for a miracle.

In the morning I called again to ask how is she. In the morning was again that vet who took as into hospital and he said a good news that oxygen helped and AB started to work and my bird started also to eat by herself. I was so happy to hear it. They said they took also a little branch from outside  for her. I was crying from happiness because it was so lovely that they took for her a branch to sit. Vet said she use that branch too. Personal in the hospital said she is very interesting and she talks with them there. She was all night under oxygen and after second AB she went better and woke up on her legs. They asked to come and see her and allowed to feed her and said if there will be no breathing difficulties we can go home in evening and treat with AB at home. They also suggested to turn to bird specialist for analyses and check up as they were no able to examine her because her bad condition. They said that probably it can be aspergilliosis disease and my bird need a specialist help. At that moment I had no idea how hard that disease can be. We went home with further instructions and medications. I am so thankful to Estonian Pet Emergency Hospital who gave as first help in that critical moment!

At home we booked the visit to the bird specialist who is nearly the only specialist here. On our visit day we came to show my bird to the bird specialist. Doctor looked at her and as my bird did not look anymore sick he said to go home and probably it was a heat stroke. He advised if that condition will repeat again then it can be aspergilliosis and then he will do all necessary tests. I was a little confused as I expected to do all tests on that day but vet said to give AB up to the end as hospital prescribed and if condition will repeat then we continue with other treatment. We went home. All seemed to be okay and bird eat well also flied well. Exactly two weeks later after first breathing shock that hard condition repeated as it supposed to be with that disease. It is very strange but the clock time was also the same as the first time. But there was also vomiting included beside hard breathing symptoms. Now I understood it is asper certainly! I called again to the vet but he was gone to the Africa because work operations. We booked a visit for the time when he will be back to Estonia but at the moment we needed a very quick help as my bird vomited liquid fluid a lot. It was terrible situation and so helpless a feeling. Big stressing hours went to call to get somewhere for a help. I get advice from Pet Emergency to start again with AB which we had. I gave meds to the bird but she vomited all out and nothing hold inside her beak. I saw how she had spasms every moment when she vomited. Finally I get a number to have a visit to one other vet who injected AB for the emergency and gave injections at home to continue treating. In conclusion for me it was clear that it is asper and we need a different treatment but we did not get it at that moment. At home I injected my bird every day and she went again better like nothing was wrong. From hospital doctor said that AB takes off secondary symptoms which cause inflammation and hard breathing but they do not treat lungs from asper. My bird condition went better and time later we get to our bird vet again. On that time vet did blood test and x-ray. Blood test showed very damaged liver and lungs showed several cloudy formations. After x-ray and blood test results vet said he will order for my bird Itraconazole treatment which is for aspergilliosis treating. For the liver he prescribed to inject liver support treatment. Treating period was very long. I did all things what was prescribed. It was hard but we adapted this activity and my bird understood that every morning and evening we have injections. Her liver was so bad that vet said they have no indicator in the laboratory test to show so low numbers.

After about a month we had a new visit and a new tests. Results were nearly the same but the liver was a little better. The lungs had still formations inside. We were prescribed to continue treatment and now we were able to give meds by beak and we stopped the injections for more calmer handling. When passed nearly two months after we start Itraconazole treatment I recognized that my bird do not feel good anymore. She changed weak and her legs were tremble. She was no able to eat by leg. When she moved she did it so slowly because it was hard to her and her body was stiff. I gave her orange pieces and she wanted to eat it but her leg was no able to hold food. She tried to put orange piece on the bowl side and eat that way which was so difficult to her. I realized that meds did her condition worse and I stopped these meds. My vet was again not in the city and I felt again so helpless and nobody to ask for advice. This medicament was contraindicated for African Greys. My friend suggested a fb group Parrot First Aid. Immediately I wrote down all symptoms and treatments to ask for an advice from other parrot owners abroad. It was my last chance to do something. And then after my post I met Claire Henning who advised me to do nebulizing with Veterinary Disinfectant supplement F10SC. For this lady it was advice from her own experience and her searching work. She sent me a lot of materials to learn about this disease and treating. Also she gave so much advice about feeding directions to support liver and all organism. It was amazing how much help we have from Facebook! It was just some minutes and I get to know much more information what to do than here with all vets operations together. Facebook connects all people around the world just in few minutes and that is very huge priority in much cases when we need advice in situations in which we are left alone. If more years ago it would be happened before Facebook and developed internet, I think then this story would not have happy end... Claire spent very much her personal time at nights and days for teaching me and supervise the situation of my bird. I have no words to describe my thank to her because I truly believe she saved my bird with God´s help! She prayed a lot about us and my bird get chance to recover from this disease. Claire is a wonderful person because she helps with an advice many parrot owners around the world.

I ordered supplement for nebulizing and started to nebulize my bird every day about 30 minutes in evenings. The rate of supplementation was 500 ml saline solution and 2ml F10SC supplement. We did nebulizing about 2 weeks and then came our next visit to bird vet who did new tests and x-ray. I did not tell him at first that we did nebulizing and waited for the x-ray result. Vet looked at the x-ray quite long time and he was quiet and did said nothing. Few minutes later he said he do not see any formations in lungs anymore and they seem to be clear. I was happily shocked because I could not believe my ears that vet said that. Before we had several times x-rays and in all these x-ray results were several cloudy formations. Then vet took x-ray results from previous time to compare and said to my question again yes that he do not see nothing in lungs right now. Then I told him that I used supplement F10SC for nebulizing. I was surprised because he new that supplement and for it use abroad but unfortunately he did not recommend us to obtain it as this clinic do not offer such things. He recommended to continue liver support supplement and periodically nebulizing as I did. He agreed that this supplement perhaps cleaned up her lungs. Our vet opinion about aspergilliosis treating is different as have his colleagues in some other countries where experience with that disease is much larger. He says that asper is not possible to treat out and it can periodically happen again. But I am still thankful for all vets advice and opportunity which I had to find out the right way to treat. All vets which were involved in this long case gave an emergency help and extended my bird´s life for me to find out nebulizing instructions. It all had a connection between when I think about it in past time.

All what I want to say about vet system is very simple and clear: nobody cares about your bird health so much as you do! We can get to the vet and ask for advice and help and usually we get typical treatment in most cases which must help but sometimes it is not helping. The vet will not supervise your bird later at your home and that all work must do the bird owner. It is really necessary to change diet and to put your bird in real care condition during the illness period. Beside the treatment there is necessary to support bird´s health as much as possible and for that is needed a lot of time and lot of will to do that. Vet will not deep into all observations in your bird health and behavior. Also we can not expect that because all vets have much patients and they are no able to remember all your notes and comments. In this time when all around the world have much rush and time must be spent reasonably you must take to your self a learning task about diagnosis of your bird, treating suggestions with health support in all illness cases. It is essential because birds have weak health. We can not wait long and hope that symptoms will pass and in true we can not always trust the vet. All are in our hands and really all depends about how hard is health situation and how competent is your vet about birds and most important is that you must think one step forward and control all meds and suggestions by searching information. It took for me much power to work with English materials to learn about this disease and the treating results. Must say I learned much better my English language beside the learning all materials about asper. It was the second plus behind fact that I could help my bird.

People usually do not read about different illnesses before something wrong is happened. So I did not it before too but I was supposed to do that now to save my bird. I searched out that usually aspergilliosis disease comes very silently and it kills birds silently without any apparent symptoms until breathing shock will happen. That part is the painful end of the bird´s life. Signs are also losing the voice. The mold is growing inside slowly and affects by time all organs which can cause inflammation which is called secondary symptoms. In most cases this disease is not be treatable because drugs kill organs before meds can clean up lungs and all respiratory system. As fungus damage so much liver and kidney then hard meds hardly do damage work as well to the poorly weakened organs and therefore birds can die before treatment can start to work because intensive medications. That can happen because bird´s weakened health is poisoned by fungus and it is not strong enough to stand up to for all medications during long time. It is usually treated with fungus treatment combined with antibiotics. In this case birds need something more effective and more safe to treat. Firstly supplement F10SC sound to me too extreme to use cleansing product to treat my bird but it worked and no doubt about it anymore. This supplement have very useful benefit in all emergency cases because it is safe veterinary disinfectant product if it is used in right rate. When bird´s lungs and respiratory system are affected by fungus then it is more effective to nebulize your bird because breathing right supplement clean more effective lungs and all organs. It is because birds respiratory system is in connection with all organism. The nebulizing air circulates around all organism and it goes also into bones. Therefore it goes to the right place more quickly and start to clean necessary places immediately. Certainly is very important to support liver function in all treatment cases.

This was our asper story. That was a lesson for me to learn about this disease. The lesson had a success in my knowledge because I had luckily right advice in right time. I was lucky that I was not late and my bird was strong enough to wait for the right supplementation. I get to know a lot of information what can cause this disease. As we have a new apartment and clean conditions I was supposed to learn out more odds about food and environmental indicators what can cause the asper, also about weakened immune system what can be very sensitive to that. We have at home also an other birds but affected was only one bird. Half a year later we had new vet visit and new test results. My birds liver was with normal indicators and recovered normally but in her lungs were a one very small formation again. That mean that I must continue nebulizing periodically and pay close attention to my bird health for all the rest of her life. Now is passed more than a year from recovering and we live with that diagnosis and keep this disease under control. We know what to do in case something wrong happens again and that feeling makes me feel more secured. I know that nobody is protected from any kind of illnesses but it is more than good if you know how to give the first emergency help to extend the time to get to the bird specialist.

We were lucky we recovered from that and I believe that second chance was given because to learn about this and to understand how fragile can be one parrot´s life. That chance was given also to learn about mistakes which commonly happen in domesticated conditions. 

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