Aspergillosis is a severe illness hazard to companion parrots that has been and continues to be. It is mostly a respiratory illness caused by the fungus Aspergillus, a widespread soil-borne organism. Aspergillosis is typically lethal to birds if it is not treated or detected early.
However, this is not simply a sickness that birds may get. Aspergillus infections may also occur in humans. Immunocompromised persons are the most vulnerable, including those with HIV/AIDS, those on high doses of steroids, those receiving chemotherapy, and the very elderly and very young.
“People develop aspergillosis in the same manner that birds do: they breathe in too many Aspergillus spores or are in a debilitated state and can’t fight off the illness,” said Jeffrey Jenkins, DVM, an avian veterinarian in San Diego, California. Aspergillus is found all around the globe, especially in hot and humid settings. Jenkins said, “Aspergillus is practically ubiquitous in the environment.” “You constantly inhale these fungus spores.”
The number of spores breathed is usually insufficient to cause sickness, and most individuals have strong enough immune systems to protect themselves against a “normal” amount of spores. A healthy individual, on the other hand, may get aspergillosis if they consume too much of the fungus. This might happen if the individual lives in an old home with moldy walls, or if mold is allowed to develop in a basement after flooding. Even a “normal” quantity of spores might cause aspergillosis in someone in poor condition.
The bulk of aspergillosis infections happen in late summer and early fall. “During warm, humid conditions, the fungus multiplies rapidly and sporelates.” When the days dry out, the dust and spores are blown into the air, and the spore count skyrockets,” Jenkins stated.
Aspergillosis in people may manifest itself in a variety of ways, ranging from an allergy-like disease to life-threatening widespread infections.
Allergic Bronchopulmonary Aspergillosis is the mildest type of the illness. Coughing and wheezing, as well as occasional bouts of general malaise, are symptoms comparable to asthma. Steroids are administered through aerosol or orally.
If enough spores are ingested, fungus begin to germinate within the lung cavity, resulting in the formation of massive granulomas (growths). Aspergilloma and chronic pulmonary aspergillosis are the terms for this. The fungus secretes poisonous and allergenic chemicals in this version of the illness, which may make a person sick. In the early stages of the condition, a person may have no symptoms. The infected individual will eventually develop weight loss, frequent coughing, fatigue, and an overall “run down” sensation. X-rays, lung scans, and blood tests are used to make the diagnosis. Antifungal medications such as voriconazole, caspofungin, itraconazole, or amphotericin B are used to treat the condition. Surgery may also be necessary.
Aspergillus spores may also enter the sinuses, causing a granuloma or fungal mass to form inside the sinuses and deep into the skull. Treatment may include a mix of antifungal medications and surgery.
If the condition is detected early and not allowed to develop, the prognosis is typically favorable.
“The faster therapy is begun, the greater the chances of survival and the better your possibilities for a complete recovery,” Jenkins added, referring to birds.
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