Cockatiels are generally hardy birds which helps make them one of the most popular pet birds. However, there are species-specific diseases. Knowing what is normal for your bird (and normal is different even for birds of the same species) will help you know when there is a problem and get help quickly. Here are 3 descriptions of diseases and their symptoms.
Pacheco’s virus it has proven to be almost 100% fatal due to the difficult to detect symptoms and the aggressive attack on the bird’s system. Caused by the herpes virus, it is generally spread from one bird to another through spoiled food, water and feces; and stressed birds seem more resilient. There has been some success in treatment with the use of the vaccine, but it causes side effects that are as problematic as the disease itself, especially tumors at the injection site, paralysis and death. Larger parrots seem to have the most negative reactions to the vaccine. The best defense seems to be a strong offense on the part of the owner, being alert to your bird’s feeding patterns, shedding, energy levels, or any signs of shedding, and then getting your bird professional help right away.
Psittacine beak and feather disease often abbreviated as PBFD, it is caused by a virus: psittacine circovirus 1 (PsCV-1), which attacks the immune system presenting with loss of feathers, deformed development of beaks, nails and claws. Birds showing any of these symptoms should be tested for the disease immediately, as early detection increases the chance of survival exponentially. This disease is spread through airborne dander, feathers, dry feces and secretions of the infected bird, it easily infects other birds, but cannot be transmitted to humans. The good news is that young birds often survive and develop a natural immunity to the disease.
psittacosis Sometimes referred to as Parrot Fever or Bird Fancier’s Lung (BFL), it is a disease that affects all bird species and can also be transmitted to humans. Pet birds are the most common transmitters of the disease, especially many types of parrots. Because it is caused by virus-like bacteria, it can be effectively treated with antibiotics when detected early. There is a good recovery rate for birds and humans. Spread from small particles of infected faecal matter that dries and is carried in the air, it is also a threat to other birds.