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The three harmless letters "AGY" (= Avian Gastric Yeast) symbolise a malicious, incurable and in the progressed stadium deadly disease. This disease is comparatively frequent among budgies, but also several other bird species can be affected. AGY is highly contagious; if one bird feeds another the pathogen can be spread. In many birds, the diesease appears in a cronic course without any symptoms interrupted by acute episodes from time to time. Therefore an ill bird can be misjudged and considered to be healthy during the period without any symptoms. A bird who seems to be healthy and who had just become a new flock member can introduce and spread the disease. In the worst case, the whole flock can become infected without showing any symptoms for several weeks or months. That's the reason why this disease is so malicious.
Typical symptoms of an AGY infection
What is the course of this disease?
Birds suffering from a megabacteria infection often show secondary infections caused by bacteria. Both types of pathogens, Macrorhabdus ornithogaster and bacteria like Streptococcus spp. and so on, can interact and make the health status become worse so that the bird's life is in danger.
If Macrorhabdus ornithogaster has spread in a bird's body and no symptoms can be seen so far, then we speak about a so-called megabacteriosis or macrorhabdiosis which is the newly introduced medical term for this disease. Once a bird shows any symptoms like vomiting or loss of weight, we have to deal with a disease called going light (GL) or wasting disease. In fact this is the description for a progressed state of an infestation with Macrorhabdus ornithogaster combined with other pathogens.
So far, scientists and avian vets weren't able to find out whether the presence of megabacteria in a bird's organism can lead to an outbreak of GL or if it takes more factors to cause this appearance of the disease. Many experts claim the presence of bacteria that are responsible for secondary infections is a pre-condition for the outbreak of GL.
Infection with megabacteria = GL?
Special diet for megabacteriosis or GL patients
Supporting therapies and treatments for megabacteriosis/GL patients
"The first treatment in the avian clinic was successfully, but 9 weeks later Pierrot suffered a relapse. The second treatment followed, and 5 weeks later another relapse weakened my bird. We could not take the responsibility for another treatment because of side effects of the drugs we used to cure the bird. Pierrot looked very agile and active despite he was suffering from the infection with megabacteria. I was wondering what I could do for him and therefore I read a book about the medical use of herbs.
In this book I found the information that thyme has fungicide effects. From this day on I served thyme tea to Pierrot every day (2 small teaspoons of the herb for 250ml of water). Regularly the vet examined the droppings and he found out that the number of the pathogens decreased and finally disappeared till the 9th and 12th week. Because of a possible latent megabacteria infestation in the glandular stomach, I added 1/2 teaspoon of ground anise to the thyme tea."
Certainly you have to make sure your bird accepts the tea. If so, you can try to prepare a mash from the herbs and serve it to your bird. Mrs. Buckermann's budgie Pierrot accepted this mash and she noted: "You should not serve too much mash to your bird. Otherwise problems with kidney (due to proteins) and liver (due to fat) can result from this special diet. As Pierrot has been regularly weighted and checked (the values were listed each time) I have been able to learn quickly from the thyme therapy."
Certainly thyme and anise don't replace any kind of (preceding) treatment with antifungal drugs, but it seems as if these herbs really have a remarkably positive effect on a bird's health.
Mrs. Buckermann continued: "The mash I prepared for Pierrot consisted of a small quantity (like a pea) of low fat curd cheese (most probably to many proteins in the long run) and cereal baby food (without sugar and milk) and a pinch of thyme and anise tea. For feeding I have invented a special procedure. I put the mash on the tip of my finger and put it into Pierrot's beak. Well, a lot of patience was needed! Even after he had recovered, I was still feeding Pierrot with this thyme-mash from time to time (not daily)."
Mrs. Buckermann wanted to point out that this herb mash is not the one and only treatment for GL patients. And furthermore she said:
"A correct dosage is of high importance, because other health problems can appear in case of an overdose. You should start the therapy with just a small quantity and a light thyme tea. I primarily watched the consistency of Pierrot's droppings, weight and health conditions every day and documented it. You should not feed your bird just on this mash, this would be far too one-sided. I served a lot of fresh food like fruit, vegetables, and occasionally a little bit boiled yolk and sprouted seeds as well. Do not feed a bird too much in spite of you mean well. My budgie gained weight and suddenly he was overweighed!"
German version of this text: Gaby Schulemann-Maier,
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