Undiagnosed nasal congestion

by Melody Obst
(Bastrop, TX)



We have a Greater Vasa just a little over a year old. He began to sneeze, make a clicking noise and sounds congested in the nasal area. He has been to our local vet and has had lab work, xrays and antibotic therapy for (this last time) 30 days straight. This last time was the 3rd time.

From xrays our vet thought perhaps he had an enlarged heart but since he is so rare the vet has nothing to compare the xrays to. I have sent them to another vet who said the heart appeared perhaps enlarged in one view but not the other. He thought an extended time on an antibiotic would do the trick. It hasn't helped.

When we first took Iggy to the vet here he suggested perhaps he had a seed stuck in his nostral and was going to do xrays of the head. He didn't do that and doesn't seem to want to do one now either saying he'd have to anesthetize him. We have approximately $800 invested in vet visits but Iggy remains he same over months now. Other than this nasal thing and sometimes open-mouthed breathing Iggy seems fine. He has a voracious appetite and is very playful.

The other night he was in my face and as I went to give him a kiss on the beak I caught a whiff of an obnoxious odor. I believe I've smelled this before when I wore a bandade on my arm too long and upon removing the bandage the wound was pusy looking and the smell horible.

The first medication Iggy was on seemed to help but as soon as he was off for a week he relapsed. The second time too. This third time for 30 days he didn't seem to improve.

Could he have a seed stuck in his nostral as was first suggested? Could it move around in there which was cause the on again off again congested breathing sound? Could the meds get rid of infection but because the seed is there the infection keeps coming back?

When he breaths like this he sounds like a baby breathing through heavy snot. Also at the same time, you can observe his neck moving in rhythm to the breaths. He doesn't seem any worse than when we first noticed this problem many months ago. He doesn't seem any worse and in fact, there are times when he doesn't so it all. He does sneeze and when he gets really bad he opens his mouth.

We are running out of money and there doesn't seem to be any other vet in our area. Suggestions please. Thank you.

Comments for Undiagnosed nasal congestion

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Jan 09, 2014
Continued from previous post
by: The Avian Vet

(Answer continued)

Iggy could possibly have a seed stuck, and this should be investigated as a rule out. Endoscopy is a better diagnostic tool in such a case than radiographs. Nasal flush can dislodge the foreign body.

No, it is not likely it would "move around in there which was cause the on again off again congested breathing sound."

Could the meds get rid of infection but because the seed is there the infection keeps coming back?
Yes, that is a possible explanation. Other explanations are also possible. Maybe the bacteria were only slightly susceptible to the drugs used. With the over use of Baytril, our best drugs has resistant bacteria. It may be that there is a fungal infection as well, and only the bacteria re being treated, but return when the drugs stop because the fugues in still there; or the drugs only stop their growth but not actually kill the organisms. He may be continually exposed to the organism and is becoming re-infected after each treatment. Does he drink from a water bowl or bottle? What is his primary diet? These two things can play a huge role in chronic sinus infections. Water bowls cannot be changed often enough, and simple rinsing is not going to remove the bacteria. The bacteria that grow in water bowls most commonly is Pseudomonas. Pseudomonas is the most common species to be resistant to baytril and nearly all of the others. Water bottles are more sanitary. Birds not on pellet diets are prone to vitamin A deficiency which is a leading cause of secondary bacterial infections and other respiratory disease.

Does he have a tail bob?

Jan 09, 2014
Bird not getting well
by: The Avian Vet

Were any other diagnostics performed?

I cannot comment on the heart issue without seeing the radiographs. We can set up a consultation, if you would like me to review the films. I am also available to examine Iggy and do a thorough work up.

A foreign body lodged someplace in the upper respiratory tract can cause irritation and usually develops a secondary bacterial infection. However, foreign body inhalation is only one of many differentials that would cause the symptoms your bird is showing. Other rule outs include primary bacterial or fungal infection; secondary bacterial or fungal infection in conjunction with other (primary) infections, or with trauma, exposure to fumes or tobacco smoke, poor nutrition, foreign bodies, excessively dry air, and others; masses, growths, or tumors; allergies; and others.

I can not say whether or not your bird can or should be anesthetized without examine Iggy and seeing current blood work. Certainly anesthetizing a bird with respiratory problems carries more risk, and may still be possible, even necessary in some cases. Even though radiographs are a useful diagnostic tool, it is not the modality I would start with. Radiographs would be useful to rule out any lower respiratory tract (primarily the air sacs and lungs) involvement.

In order to diagnose your bird, I would recommend that a more thorough work up be done, including collection of a complete history, thorough physical exam, nasal flush for collection and culture & sensitivity, therapeutic nasal flush with antibiotics, culture & sensitivity of the choana, follow up blood work to see if the long term baytril and other antibiotics administration had any effect on organ function, particularly liver and kidney; endoscopy of the choana, sinuses, and nasal cavities; culture of the GI tract to determine if secondary yeast and Gram negative bacteria; and others as determined based on these findings.

Open-mouthed breathing is a significant clinical sign and should not be ignored.

I am sure the bad odor is significant and should be reported to whomever examines Iggy next.

As far as treatment goes, I can not say until I examine Iggy and I have some lab results. Obviously antibiotics (or antibiotics alone) are not the answer. So I cannot just recommend more antibiotics or any other treatment, in fact. I can suggest that you provide some probiotics (not yogurt, as it does not work and birds cannot digest dairy). For general supportive care, you can increase the humidity and even nebulize with Normal (Physiologic) Saline to moisten the respiratory tract.

(Answer continued in next post, the system does not allow comments over 3000 characters.)

Jan 09, 2014
More information
by: Melody

We have had him to the local vet several times ($800 office, lab etc) and then extra for the formulation of antibiotics.

During our first visit the vet suggested Iggy had a seed stuck in his nostril and was going to take x-rays but never did and now he seems disinterested saying he'd have to anesthetize him to do so. He did take x-rays of the body and said it appeared he may have an enlarged heart but because he's such a rare bird he has nothing to compare the films to. I sent the films to another vet who lives in another state and has some experience with Greater Vasas. He felt the x-rays may show an enlarged heart in one view but that it doesn't appear to be the case in another view. He felt if we put him on the antibiotic for 30 days Iggy would be healed.

The first time Iggy was on meds (TMPS Trimethoprim/sulfa 10 days) he improved but immediately relapsed about a week later when the medication stopped. The second time (Doxycycline 10 days) seemed to have the same result. The third time (Enrofloxacin 30 days) I don't think showed any improvement at all.

Given his rarity and the fact he is so loving, gentle, funny, and sweet we hate to lose him. We are reaching our financial boundries. Can you help or suggest something? Thank you.

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