Attention! This is a potentially life-threatening condition for your bird and possibly your flock. Time is of the essence, contact your veterinarian immediately.Find me a Vet
Avian Tuberculosis Overview
Avian tuberculosis (ATB) is an infectious, contagious bacterial disease caused by organisms of the Mycobacterium avium complex (MAC) that affects all avian species, especially waterfowl. MAC consists of M. avium subsp. avium, M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis, M. avium subsp. Silvaticum, and M. intracellulare. ATB presents as a chronic and progressive disease course, with affected birds showing gradual and eventually marked weight loss, weakness, and general unthriftiness in their overall appearance. In birds, ATB primarily targets the liver and digestive tract, and later disseminating into the lungs, air sacs, spleen, bone marrow, and skin. Ducks that are stressed or have poor immune systems are more susceptible to infection with Mycobacterium spp. ATB is common in captive waterfowl kept in zoos.
The main source of infection for ducks is by exposure to the same environment as infected birds. This is because infected birds will shed large amounts of the organism in their feces, contaminating their environment. Since Mycobacterium spp are highly resistant, they can survive in soil for up to 4 years, making it difficult to eradicate from contaminated environments. Ducks become infected through ingestion or inhalation of the bacteria while dabbling in their environment.
ATB has a long incubation period and a slow course, with symptoms prolonging in ducks for weeks or months.