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MMWR 47(RR10);13-14

Publication date: 07/10/1998

Table of Contents




The following methods are established as effective treatments for avian chlamydiosis (AC). All birds with AC should be treated for 45 days, except as noted below:
Medicated Feed

Medicated feed should be the only food provided to the birds during the entire treatment. Birds' acceptance of medicated feed is variable. Thus, food consumption should be monitored. Acceptance may be enhanced by first adapting the birds to a similar, nonmedicated diet. Treatment begins when the birds accept the medicated feed as the sole food in their diet. The following options are available:

  • Medicated mash diets (i.e., greater than or equal to 1% chlortetracycline {CTC} with less than or equal to 0.7% calcium) prepared with corn can be used. *
  • White millet seed impregnated with 0.5 mg CTC/g of seed (Keet Life ) should be used for budgerigar parakeets and finches only. It should be used for 30 days. Hartz Mountain (Secaucus, New Jersey) is the only manufacturer.
  • Pellets and extruded products containing 1% CTC can be used. They are available and appropriate for use with most pet birds. Select a pellet size appropriate for the size of bird being treated.
  • A special diet might be necessary for lories and lorikeets, which feed on nectar and fruit in the wild.
The National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians (NASPHV) can provide a list of companies that sell medicated feed. Address requests to NASPHV, RSA Tower, Suite 1310, P.O. Box 303017, Montgomery, AL 36130-3017.

Oral or Parenteral Treatments

Three treatments available include oral doxycycline, injectable doxycycline, and injectable oxytetracycline.

Oral Doxycycline

Doxycycline is the drug of choice for oral treatment; either the monohydrate or calcium-syrup formulations can be used. Based on nonpeer-reviewed studies, dosage recommendations are as follows: 40-50 mg/kg body weight by mouth once a day for cockatiels, Senegal parrots, and blue-fronted and orange-winged Amazon parrots; and 25 mg/kg body weight by mouth once a day for African grey parrots, Goffin's cockatoos, blue and gold macaws, and green-winged macaws. Precise dosages cannot be extrapolated for untested species; however, 25-30 mg/kg body weight administered by mouth once a day is the recommended starting dosage for cockatoos and macaws, and 25-50 mg/kg by mouth once a day is recommended for other psittacine species. If the bird regurgitates the drug, another treatment method should be used.

Injectable Doxycycline

Intramuscular (IM) injection into the pectoral muscle is often the easiest method of treatment, but not all injectable-doxycycline formulations are suitable for IM injection. All available formulations can cause irritation at the injection site. The VibrovenosTM formulation (Pfizer Laboratories, London, Ontario, Canada) is available in Canada and Europe and is effective if administered at doses of 75-100 mg/kg body weight IM every 5-7 days for the first 4 weeks and subsequently every 5 days for the duration of treatment. Anecdotal reports indicate that pharmacist-compounded, injectable-doxycycline products have been used successfully in the United States. However, data are insufficient to determine precise dosage schedules. The injectable-hyclate formulation labeled for intravenous use in humans in the United States is not suitable for IM use in birds because severe tissue reactions will occur at the site of injection.

Injectable Oxytetracycline

Limited information exists for the use of an injectable, long-acting oxytetracycline product (LA-200TM; Pfizer Laboratories, Exton, Pennsylvania). Current dosage recommendations are as follows: subcutaneous injection of 75 mg/kg body weight every 3 days in Goffin's cockatoos, blue-fronted and orange-winged Amazon parrots, and blue and gold macaws. This dosage may be suitable for but has not been tested on other species. This product causes irritation at the site of injection and is best used to initiate treatment in ill birds or those that are reluctant to eat. After stabilization with oxytetracycline treatment, the birds should be switched to another form of treatment to reduce the muscle irritation that is caused by repeated oxytetracycline injection.

Experimental Methods

Treatment protocols using fluoroquinolones, late-generation macrolides, pharmacist-compounded injectable doxycycline, and doxycycline-medicated feed are under investigation. Information about these treatment protocols may be available in the scientific literature or from avian veterinary specialists.

* The recommended recipe is 2 pounds of rice, 2 pounds of hen scratch feed, and 3 pints of water, cooked for 15 minutes at full pressure in a pressure cooker. Add 10 mg chlortetracycline/g of feed after the cooked feed cools. Note that birds may find this diet unpalatable and may not accept it.


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