Pododermatitis, commonly known as “bumblefoot”, has become a frequently seen disease in companion and aviary birds. Pododermatitis is a general term for any inflammatory or degenerative condition of the avian foot. Pododermatitis may occur in any avian species, but is particularly problematic in permanently and temporarily captive birds, such as birds of prey, chickens, turkeys, ducks, geese, swans, waders, seabirds as well as canaries, finches, budgerigars and cockatiels.
Most avian species are susceptible to one or more of the avian poxvirus strains and / or species. It has been reported that naturally occurring avian pox infections can affect about 60 species of wild birds, comprising 20 families. Poxviruses can be transmitted in a number of different ways. Even though they are unable to penetrate unbroken skin, small abrasions are sufficient to permit infection. The most common method of transmission is by means of biting insects such as mosquitos, mites, midges or flies. Many biting insects have been shown to be mechanical vectors only, transferring the virus from infected to susceptible birds by contamination of their skin-piercing mouthparts. Transmission can also occur directly by contact between infected and susceptible birds or by contact with contaminated objects, such as bird feeder perches. Aerosol transmission, although rare, can occur from viruses being carried along with dust, particularly in confined situations such as aviaries. At the time of year when vectors are at the highest numbers, avian pox transmission is greatest.1
- Avian Pox, Charles van Riper and D. J. Forrester, Infectious Diseases of Wild Birds (pp.131-176), Chapter 6, Blackwell, 2007, Publishing Editors N. J. Thomas, D. B. Hunter, C. T. Atkinson.
If a cat brings a caught bird indoors, then immediate action is needed to save the bird’s life. The animal has to be freed immediately out of the cat’s mouth or claws. A very quick assessment of the animal is essential, which is being done with the aim to find open or displaced fractures, wounds involving in particular chest and abdomen and to detect signs of an acute bleed. An actively bleeding wound needs to be treated immediately. The best option is to use clean tissues or kitchen towels to compress the bleeding area gently but firmly until the bleed has stopped. Even a small amount of lost blood can result into a severe irreversible shock situation in birds. This is particularly true for small birds species.