Trichomonosis In Garden Birds

Last winter members of the public reported finding significant numbers of dead wood pigeons in local woods.  Carcases were submitted from affected locations and trichomonosis was confirmed as the cause of death.  This condition is caused by the protozoan parasite Trichomonas gallinae

Pigeons can be asymptomatic carriers, but outbreaks of disease can occur if a virulent strain is introduced, if large numbers of pigeons congregate in a small area and/or if food is in short supply.  Infection can be transmitted to other species as a result of wood pigeons visiting garden bird feeders. 

Finches are particularly susceptible, and the disease has played a major role in the dramatic decline in greenfinch numbers.  Affected birds can appear sleepy with a fluffed-up appearance and may have bits of food stuck around their beaks.  They linger around feeders for longer than normal and attempt to eat but struggle to swallow. 

There are current reports of sick birds in the local area and the pictures below are from the post mortem examination of a chaffinch.  The oesophagus was distended with food and caseo-necrotic plaques were visible on the mucosa of the distal oesophagus/crop.  As trichomonosis is spread at garden feeding stations regular cleaning and disinfection of bird feeders/baths is recommended. 



Further information:

If you hear reports from members of the public and wish to discuss submission of wild birds for examination, please get in touch and we will consider how best to respond and help.  At the moment we are also sensitive to the possibility of Avian Influenza in wild birds and Scottish Government have criteria for sampling target species for this disease possibility.  

Posted by Veterinary Services on 04/11/2020

Tags: birds, trichomonosis, garden