Cockatiel Diseases – A Description of 3 Pet Cockatiel Illnesses

Cockatiels are generally hardy birds which helps make them one of the most popular pet birds. However, there are illnesses that are specific to the species. Getting to know what is normal for your bird (and normal is different for birds even of the same species) will help you to know when there is a problem and allow you to get help quickly. Here are 3 descriptions of diseases and their symptoms.

Pacheco’s Virus has proven to be nearly 100% fatal because of its hard to detect symptoms and aggressive attack on the bird’s system. Caused by the herpes virus, it is generally spread from one bird to another through spoiled food, water, and droppings; and birds that are stressed seem more susceptible. There has been some success in treatment with the use of a vaccine, but it causes side effects that are almost as problematic as the disease itself, mainly tumors at the injection site, paralysis, and death. It is the larger parrots that seem to have most of the negative reactions to the vaccine. The best defense seems to be a powerful offense on the owner’s part by staying alert for any changes in your bird’s eating patterns, elimination, energy level, or onset of discharge of any kind and then getting your bird professional help immediately.

Psittacine Beak and Feather Disease often abbreviated as PBFD is cause by a virus–psittacine circovirus 1 (PsCV-1), that attacks the immune system that presents with loss of feathers, deformed development of beaks, nails, and claws. Birds showing any of these symptoms should be immediately tested for the disease as early detection increases the chance of survival exponentially. This disease spreads through airborne dander, feather, dried fecal matter and secretions from the infected bird, easily infects other birds, but cannot be passed to humans. The good news is that often young birds survive and form a natural immunity to the disease.

Psittacosis sometimes referred to as Parrot Fever or Bird Fancier’s Lung (BFL), is a disease that all species of birds are susceptible to, and one that can be passed to humans as well. Pet birds are the most frequent transmitters of the disease especially many types of Parrots. Because it is caused by virus-like bacteria, it can be effectively treated with antibiotics when detected early. There is a good recovery rate for birds and humans. Spread from minute particle of infected fecal matter that dries and becomes airborne, it is a menace to other birds as well.