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Signs of

Avian Tuberculosis



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Tuberculosis Birds

Avian Tuberculosis is a slow spreading disease of adult birds.
Avian tuberculosis is caused by a bacterial infection
(Mycobacterium avian).

Mycobacterium avium is very resistant; it can survive in soil
for up to 4 years, in 3% hydrochloric acid for 2 hr, and
in 4% sodium hydroxide for 30 min.

All birds appear to be susceptible, although to varying degrees.

Tuberculosis in birds occurs worldwide, most commonly in small,
barnyard flocks and in zoo aviaries; tuberculosis is more
prevalent in captive than in wild birds. It is rarely found
in young flocks. Wild birds have been found infected.

Signs of tuberculosis usually do not develop until late in
the infection when birds become thin and sluggish,
and lameness may be seen. Some exotic species may have
lesions in the liver and spleen without intestinal involvement,
but bone marrow and small mesenteric nodules may be found.
Lesions are not calcified.

Infected birds with advanced lesions excrete the organism in
their feces.

Mycobacterium avium may cause disease in humans. It
has been isolated from people with acquired
immunodeficiency syndrome.

Infected premises remain infected for long periods unless
there is a deliberate decontamination program developed.

There is no effective treatment for avian tuberculosis,
other than culling.

Improved management and better sanitation of the environment
will help to prevent the introduction of the disease.

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