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Quarantining New Birds
"What's all the fuss about?"


The importance of quarantining new birds from an existing flock of healthy birds is not something to approach nonchalantly. Unfortunately, some people do not appreciate the importance of following proper quarantine procedures until they have experienced their own personal disaster with illness and disease brought in by new birds.

When it comes to masking illness, birds should be considered "masters of disguise." More often than not, by the time the bird is visually telling us something is wrong (fluffed up, inactive, lethargic, etc.), whatever is ailing the bird has been allowed to progress to the point of potentially being life threatening.

Because birds can mask illness until it becomes a life or death situation, it is very easy to bring a sick bird into your flock because outwardly it appears to be the picture of health.

Suggested Quarantine Protocols:

The following are my recommended quarantine procedures. Other individuals may differ slightly in what they recommend, and I urge everyone to research the various quarantine protocols out there and choose the methods that work best for them.

Length of Time:
I recommend that new birds be quarantined away from your existing birds for a minimum of 4 weeks. Note that I am saying minimum. In some cases, I have quarantined birds for up to three months before introducing them to my flock. Generally speaking, if I feel the birds are coming from a questionable environment or I was not able to see the facilities where the birds came from, I am much more strict about the way in which I quarantine the birds.

Treatment During Quarantine:
The subject of proactively treating birds for disease while in quarantine is a touchy one. I for one do not generally recommend that individuals treat birds for undiagnosed illnesses, but sometimes, taking the proactive road with new birds with an unknown health history can give peace of mind to the buyer that their flock will not be put at risk once the new birds are introduced. There are many diseases out there that can be carried by birds asymptomatically (lying dormant) for months - during which time, they have the ability of infecting other healthy members of the flock quietly and without any warning.

Owning a microscope and performing your own fecal smears on new birds is one way to help eliminate treating for certain things unnecessarily. However, microscope work is difficult and accurately identifying pathogens versus artifacts in the scope is a learning process that takes years of experience to master.
The Avian Microscopy group on Yahoo! is an excellent place to start if you are interested in learning how to perform fecal analysis on your own birds. There are many experienced individuals on that group willing to lend a helping hand/eye/ear to help identify problems (if they exist).

All that being said - some folks simply are not going to be predisposed to running out and spending money on a microscope and supplies for the purposes of looking at finch poop during a quarantine period! For these individuals, I have designed a "rough" quarantine treatment schedule which I have outlined below.
Please note - I will accept zero liability for any issues or complications which may result from following this quarantine treatment outline. Individuals administering medications to their birds do so at their own risk.

Quarantine Treatment Schedule

Treatment TimeTreatmentIndications/Comments
Day 1:

SCATT - Apply 1 drop to the skin of the bird. This can be accomplished by holding the bird in the palm of the hand with the head secured between the pointer and middle finger. Use your pointer finger to push back the neck feathers and expose the skin on the back of neck, and apply a single drop using a dropper or pipette.


Iverlux - Alternatively, for large numbers of birds - a water soluble Ivermectin treatment such as Morning Bird's Iverlux can be used. The recommendation is two consecutive days of treatment for three consecutive weeks.

ASM treatment is predominantly for species characteristically associated with Air Sac Mite infections. E.g., Canaries and Gouldians.

In serious cases of ASM, a secondary respiratory infection may be present which could require subsequent antibiotic treatment to address.

Although I treat birds during quarantine for ASM - I belong to the camp of people who do not believe that routine ASM treatments are necessary, and that ASM infections are, at best, generally anecdotal.
Days 5-6, and Days 13-14:

Worm-Away - A water soluble wormer such as Morning Bird's Worm Away should be used for two consecutive days, and then repeated in 7 days. The wormer eradicates intestinal/internal parasites such as threadworms, tape worms and gizzard worms.

The follow-up treatment of Worm-Away is designed to cover the entire life-cycle.

Note: The ingredients in SCATT (Moxidectin) and Iverlux (Ivermectin) also act as wormers.
Moxidectin acts as a preventive and treatment for internal ascarid (roundworm) parasites.
Ivermectin treats threadworms by killing worms in the intestines, and will kill developing roundworms but will not kill adult roundworms.

The active ingredients in Worm-Away are Praziquantel and Oxfendazole.
Praziquantel treats trematode (flukes) parasites as well as tape worms and works by killing the worms.
Oxfendazole is a broad-spectrum anthelmintic mainly used for roundworms, strongyles (nematodes - e.g., gizzard words) and pinworms (threadworms).

Day 15:

SCATT - Apply 1 drop to the skin of the bird. This can be accomplished by holding the bird in the palm of the hand with the head secured between the pointer and middle finger. Use your pointer finger to push back the neck feathers and expose the skin on the back of neck, and apply a single drop using a dropper or pipette.

This follow-up application of SCATT is to be sure the entire life-cycle of ASM is covered. Alternatively, this can be applied after three weeks instead of two (Day 22)
Days 21-22, 35-36 and 49-50

Baycox (Coccidiosis) - Baycox is used for two consecutive days, every other week, over a six week time period. This ends up being six total applications of treatment. Treatment takes place over six weeks because Coccidia has a six-week life-cycle.

Coccidiosis is a protozoan infection that can generally be acknowledged as being endemic in the US. Birds can be carrying and periodically shedding the organism with no outward signs of disease or infection. This is especially true for birds housed in outdoor aviaries. It is for this reason that I always treat for Coccidiosis during quarantine.

Coccidiostat vs. Coccidiocide:

A coccidiostat is a medication that retards the life-cycle of the coccidia organism. They are generally used in aviaries where the infection is likely to remain endemic - e.g., chicken and pigeon enclosures, outdoor aviaries, and aviaries which are likely to have repeated exposure. The idea is that when conditions (during periods of stress or warm, humid weather) are favorable for the organism to spread, the coccidiostat is given to retard the life-cycle (the shedding of the oocysts) so that outbreaks are fewer among the birds. During the summer months, many outdoor aviaries treat with a coccidiostat to prohibit infection. A coccidiostat WILL NOT CURE a coccidiosis infection. In fact, the nature of the product is designed to prevent the portion of the life-cycle responsible for symptoms of the infection itself. So, if your birds are symptomatic, the coccidiostat will do nothing. If the birds are asymptomatic and you use a coccidiostat, it will only be effective during the period of time it is given, and it will not eradicate any existing coccidia organisms.
Examples of Coccidiostats: Cocci-Care, Coccivet, Abba Sulfcox 55ml

A coccidiocide is a medication indicated for treating (eradicating) the coccidia organisms. The complication here is that there are many medications on the market that suggest they "treat" coccidiosis. TriMethoprim Sulfa is one such medication thrown around as being effective against coccidia. From individuals who have positively diagnosed a bird with Coccidiosis based on fecal exams, the only medication that has been used and reported to have eliminated the occysts from follow-up fecals is BAYCOX which is why it is the only medication I would use or recommend for treatment.
It is my opinion that TMS and other combination meds such as MedPet 4-in-1 act more as a coccidiostat than a coccidiocide.

Days 60-69:

Ronidasole (Anti-Protozoal) - Ronidasole (in the form of Ronex or Ronivet-S) should be administered for 7-10 consecutive days to eradicate any motile flaggelates.

There are currently two brands and two concentrations of Ronidasole available: Ronex (Morning Bird) and Ronivet-S (Vetafarm). Each is available in either a 6% and a 12% form.
If using the 6% concentration, my recommendation for treating is using 4x the recommended dosage for the first three days of treatment, then treating at 2x the recommended dosage for the remaining 4-7 days.

If you are using the 12% concentration, then you would double the dosage for the first three days, and administer the normal dosage for the remainder of treatment.

Certain protozoal infections (Trichomonas) are more common than others (e.g., Hexamita), and with the relative frequency of Trich infections in caged birds this is why I would recommend treating incoming birds with Ronidasole during quarantine.
Protozoan organisms (including Coccidia) can be detected by a PCR test through Avian Biotech - but tests can be costly if individuals are buying multiple birds.

Note: although Coccidia is a protozoan, it is not treated with Ronidasole.



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