Avian Tuberculosis (Mycobacterium avium) PDD Syndrome


Mycobacterium (ATB) – Nonmotile, straight or slightly curved rods measuring 0.2­0.6 x 1.0 m. Rods are Gram positive, while being difficult to stain. Cells that have been stained with basic fuchsin resist decolorization with acidic ethanol and are hence known as acid­alcohol­fast bacilli (AFB). This is owing to the high lipid content of mycobacterial cell walls.

Mycobacterium has 71 legitimately designated species and an additional three subspecies. M. bovis, M. leprae, and M. tuberculosis are the most common pathogens in the genus, although thirty­two species are known to be dangerous to people or animals. Atypical mycobacteria are Mycobacteria species that are not listed above. Among the atypical mycobacteria, Mycobacterium avium complex species are the most usually seen pathogens. M. avium, M. avium subspecies paratuberculosis, M. avium subspecies silvaticum, and M. intracellulare are thought to be part of the M. avium complex (MAC). However, poorly recognised strains with some resemblance to M. avium are commonly and wrongly assigned to the complex. The M. avium complex has approximately 20 known serotypes.

Most birds have proven susceptibility to M. avium, including parrots, parakeets, cranes, sparrows, starlings, emus, waterfowl raptors, and softbills. It is thought that under ideal circumstances, practically all bird species are vulnerable to avian TB. It is especially common in areas with a high population density, such as zoos or bird collections.


M. avium infections are classified as “open,” which means that affected birds routinely shed substantial quantities of organism into the environment.
M. avium is spread by the eating and inhalation of infected organisms aerosolized from faeces. Birds incubate for weeks to years. The most prevalent way of infection is via the intake of contaminated food and drink. When consumed, the organism spreads throughout the bird’s body and is excreted in vast quantities. If the bacteria is breathed, it may cause pulmonary lesions. Skin invasion is also possible. It is possible for contaminated eggs to spread, although it is uncommon.

M. avium transmission from person to human has not been shown, and all infections are considered to be of environmental origin.


A bird with a normal body weight and look might die suddenly in various conditions. However, most birds with tuberculosis will acquire symptoms such as increasing weight loss despite a strong appetite, depression, diarrhoea, increased thirst, and respiratory problems. Egg production is often reduced in birds that were producing eggs. It is quite tough to remove the illness once it has appeared. Death is the most common consequence.

Birds with the intestinal type often present with chronic wasting illness, with Proventricular Dilatation Syndrome frequently being one of the probable disorders. Depression, diarrhoea, excessive urination (polyuria), abdominal distention, lameness, and difficulties breathing may accompany weight loss.


Preventing M. avium is best accomplished by reducing stress and overcrowding; providing enough ventilation; and preventing malnutrition with a nutritious diet. Controlling an M. avium epidemic in zoos, bird gardens, and private aviaries may be particularly challenging. New aviary arrivals should be isolated for at least 1-2 months. Testing new additions for M. avium is also an effective strategy to avoid outbreaks.


All M. avium isolates studied so far are completely resistant to the antituberculous medications now in use in humans. ATB is exceedingly difficult to cure, and in many instances, therapy is not regarded a feasible option.


Culture of the M. avium organism in the lab is a complex and time-consuming operation. There may be an increased white blood cell count as well as a decreased red blood cell count. Staining methods may occasionally be used to detect germs in faeces. This, however, is not specific since other acid-fast bacteria than M. avium may be present. ABI has two methods for testing M. avium. PCR techniques for detecting the disease-causing organism and ELISA assays for detecting particular antibodies for M. avium. PCR tests are thought to be the most sensitive and quickest approach for identifying M. avium, whereas ELISA assays aid in determining M. avium exposure.


Biopsies of the liver, intestinal system, spleen, and lungs were performed postmortem. Is one of the most effective methods of diagnosing the condition. Whole blood, serum, vent, and throat swabs may all be utilised for general screening. It is preferable to send blood and swab samples for testing.


Prior to delivery, samples should be kept at 4 degrees Celsius. Overnight shipping of samples in a transport medium or as a dry swab is required.

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