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1. What are megabacteria?
Megabacteria are large rod-shaped fungi.
They are usually found in the proventriculus (glandular stomach) and the gizzard (muscular stomach).
Other sites include the intestine and, very occasionally, the crop.
2. What is the route of transmission?
Eating the megabacteria from the droppings of infected birds is the suggested route of transmission. There seems to be no air transmission.
3. What are the clinical signs of Megabacteria?
The birds seem to suffer a maldigestion/malabsorption syndrome.
Signs include: weight loss (usually seen as low pectoral muscle mass) with often increased appetite, being "fluffed up", unusual droppings - mucousy sticky droppings or whole seeds passed in droppings, occasional vomiting and or a swollen abdomen.
Reports vary in the number of fatalities. In most cases the birds become emaciated and may die of secondary infections.
4. In which bird species are megabacteria seen?
Megabacteria are seen in many bird species and are especially common in lovebirds, canaries, finches and budgies. They are also regularly seen in all household and aviary parrots.
5. Do all birds with megabacteria have clinical signs?
No. Often there are birds that have no clinical signs. There is no direct correlation between the number of megabacteria diagnosed on faecal smears and the clinical signs.
6. How are megabacteria identified in a bird?
Wet faecal smears and occasionally crop washes will display megabacteria at 400x magnification. They are rod-shaped organisms much larger than normal bacteria. Not all droppings will have megabacteria present;
7. What is the treatment for Megabacteria?
Birds can be treated with amphotericin-B (Fungillin) by crop needle or, in aviary circumstances, by an in water medication (Megabac-S). The treatment period is 10 days. Post treatment the droppings should be re-examined for megabacteria. A large percentage of the birds will recover but some may still die.
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