What are Moniliasis?

Moniliasis in birds is a disease of the alimentary tract caused by the fungal yeast called Candida albicans. It affects the mouth, crop, gizzard and vent of many types of birds, including chickens. Although it can affect large numbers of birds, the mortality rate is usually low. The spreading of this disease is allowed by poor sanitation within the coop or bird house. Often, the culprit is infected water or feed. Thankfully, it is not spread among your birds through direct contact, which enables some control. But unhygienic conditions are perfect for it to proliferate and become more invasive.

Caused by the yeast like fungus Candida, moniliasis or thrush as it’s also known, commonly affects poultry and birds throughout the world. It occurs sporadically in nature.

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Symptoms of Moniliasis in Birds

This condition doesn’t have any unique symptoms specific to it alone, but some tell tale signs are listed below:

  • Affected birds may seem pale, lethargic and exhibit ruffled feathers (depressed)
  • Pale crustiness of the skin and feathers that surround the vent area 
  • Infections in the mouth and beak can cause bad breath
  • Vent inflammation 
  • Decreased appetite
  • Dejection 
  • Overweight birds that become anemic
  • Slow growth

Causes of Moniliasis in Birds

  • Crop mycosis (otherwise known as thrush) in poultry affects many birds and is caused by Candida albicans 
  • While this is the main cause of the disease, other types have been implicated on occasion such as C. tropicalis, C. parapsilosis, C. stellatoidea and C. guilliermondii 
  • Lesions are found at post mortem around the upper alimentary tract and in particular, within the crop
  • This causes a thickening to the wall of the crop, and a yellowish-white necrotic material covers the membranes 
  • The disease affects turkeys, geese, duck, partridge, pigeon, parrot and poultry
  • This condition can occur to your bird through a contaminated environment such as affected surfaces and containers 
  • Other health issues can weaken your bird allowing this disease to flare up and flourish 
  • Food contaminated with mould can grow the organism (especially corn)
  • A suppressed immune system within your bird may cause this condition 
  • Exposure to fungus and contaminated water

Diagnosis of Moniliasis in Birds

Your avian veterinarian specialist will need to examine your bird and since the Candida or Moniliasis is usually found in the digestive tract that will be the area to check out first. But even if he finds evidence of the fungus, other tests will need to be carried out before a definitive diagnosis is made. Tests, such as a culture of the area where the fungus was found, and the need to find large numbers of the organisms will help to determine the cause of your bird’s illness. 

The specialist will also do a physical examination and ask about the history and care of the bird, and will want to know about any other diseases your bird may have had. Samples for the culture to be examined under a microscope can be taken from within the mouth or any other assessable area can be swabbed. If required, an endoscope can take a sample from down in the digestive tract to give a comprehensive test result on this condition. The outward sign of Moniliasis in your birds is not easy to see, apart from their listless and unkempt appearance. If any of your birds has passed away it is easier to diagnose the disease from a post-mortem examination.

Treatment of Moniliasis in Birds

Your specialist can advise of the right treatment for your bird which may include the administration of antifungal medications. Other factors to consider when treating your bird include eliminating the risk factors such as the presence of other diseases which can lower your bird’s immune system, leaving it open to Moniliasis to take a hold. Get these issues dealt with and treated, which will allow your bird to build up in health and immunity. Diseases such as Moniliasis take advantage of sick hosts with low resistance to disease. Keeping your bird as healthy as possible will pay dividends in the end. 

Proper nutrition, clean environment and reducing overcrowding and stress if you have a few birds will certainly help to prevent a flare up of this condition. It has been noted that an addition of copper sulphate 1:2,000 dilution in drinking water is useful for controlling the disease. The bird enclosure should be cleaned daily to keep birds healthy at a poultry farm. Doses of Vitamin A and B complex can alleviate the signs of malnutrition caused through Moniliasis.

Recovery of Moniliasis in Birds

Although treatment is effective most of the time, you can prevent this disease by maintaining clean feeder bowls, water bowls and coops and only use an antibiotic when necessary as too much use can render them ineffective when you need them. If you have several birds, separate any ill bird from its mates as they will tend to pick on sick birds causing them stress and harm. 

Try using a copper sulphate/vinegar solution in their drinking water; you can obtain copper sulphate crystals at farm supply stores. Make available a probiotic or yoghurt for your birds to build resistance. But most of all, keep their home clean and as sterile as possible. All these measures will lower the chances of the disease or yeast infecting your bird. Maintaining the health of the environment for your birds will keep them as disease free as possible.