By Dr R. Conradie
Over the last few years most of us have seen eye problems in our birds.In most cases this has shown as a swelling of the eye,usually only one eye and in most cases the lower eyelid seems to be affected.
The pattern seen seems to vary from loft to loft.
In some lofts,each bird is affected only for 2-3 days and in other lofts it appears as a smouldering infection in each bird that lasts for weeks.
In some lofts the fancier appears to continue racing well,while in others the results are poor.
Obviously no bird with an existing eye condition is sent to a race but some can return with the problem.
When diagnostic tests have been done here and in many other countries, we have found:
• Mycoplasma.Colin Walker from Australia has identified this as one of the causes.
• Ornithosis.This has been confirmed in some cases,not necessarily as an active infection but tests have shown that the bird had Ornithosis recently.These have also been Colin Walker’s findings.
• Bacteria.In SA we have found some cases of Pelistega associated with this condition.
Having said all this we feel that a virus,probably Herpes,is playing a role.The condition appears to be behaving like a virus.Virus isolation to confirm this is expensive and time consuming.Looking for the virus is sometimes like looking for a needle in a haystack
It appears to be a multifactorial problem.There is not always a specific pattern and causes identified seem to vary a little from loft to loft.This would explain variations of progression of the disease through the loft and response to treatment.
As regards treatment,there does not appear to be a treatment that is 100% effective.
The following can be tried:
• Mycoplasma/ Ornithosis treatment combinations (Tylodox etc.)
• Broad spectrum antibiotics. For Pelistega Avivet and Fosbac T gives the best results.Not necessarily for the eye problem in all cases but for the Pelistega infection.
• Antibiotic eye ointments.These only relieve the irritation in the eye and possibly help with the infection to a certain extent.These are only available on prescription.Ointments containing Chloramphenicol,Oxytetracyclines etc. are worth trying.Do not use any containing cortisone.They are banned.
• Supportive treatment with immune boosters:
o Probiotics ( Entero-Plus and others)
o Specific immune boosters (Medimune and others)