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Chronic Avian Gastric Yeast (AGY) - Treatment?

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Chronic Avian Gastric Yeast (AGY) - Treatment?

Postby Bluejay » Thu Jul 21, 2016 2:26 pm

About 7 months ago, I got my sun conure Newton. He (not DNA sexed) was 2-3 months old at the time — now he's about 10 months. Two months ago, within the span of a few days he fell in his cage several times and broke two tail feathers (on separate days). We brought him to the vet right away and he was diagnosed with avian gastric yeast. I have no way of knowing if he got it from something we did, or from the breeder/pet store, or if it was a delayed consequence of not being weaned properly (which, in retrospect, seems like the most likely explanation).

We seemed to have caught the AGY early on, as the broken feathers/falling were the only obvious symptom (no regurgitating, appetite seemed fine, still within "normal” weight range for a sun conure, etc.). The vet said that his blood sugar was low, and his food wasn't quite digesting properly (but that was only apparent under a microscope... to the naked eye it still looked normal). There was a teeny bit of blood in his stool exactly once, and that actually happened DURING his vet appointment. Because of that, he stayed overnight at the vet for observation, but the rest of his stay was (thankfully) entirely uneventful and we brought him home the next morning.

For treatment, we had him on Amphotericin B for two months, and for the first few weeks we also had him on an anti-inflammatory and antibacterial (just in case). We have kept his medicine on the proper schedule the whole time, and syringe-trained him to make it as un-stressful as possible — the first couple of weeks were difficult, but now I would even venture to say that he'll miss his 2x per day "special treat"! :P We’ve also been adding a bit of apple cider vinegar to his water for good measure. He made steady progress along the way for the whole two months. He is currently showing no symptoms and his weight has been holding steady ~102g (on an empty stomach) for the whole time. Also, he is VERY energetic — his wings are just now growing in (he was clipped when we got him) and he has recently discovered the joys of constantly flying from place to place around the house.

However, at his follow-up visit today, the vet still found a little bit of yeast in his stool and concluded that the AGY was "probably a chronic condition." (I don't even know how AGY becomes chronic — Did I do something wrong? Did I catch it too late? Or was it always going to be that way from the start?) No more amphotericin… she said we could get MegaBac to help treat it if we want to, but otherwise just keep an eye out for any symptoms and call if he showed any (and/or if MegaBac doesn't alleviate the symptoms).

Maybe I wasn’t asking the right questions, but I feel like I don’t have a very good idea of Newton's prognosis, or what to expect moving forward. She did say that the effects of AGY really depend on the bird — there are some she has to see every 3-6 months to manage the condition, and some who have had no issues after the first flare-up. But beyond MegaBac and "avoid stressful situations" she didn’t have any advice for managing the AGY.

So that’s my story — and here are my questions:

  • Have you had any birds with avian gastric yeast, chronic or otherwise?
  • How has it affected your bird over time? (weeks/months/years/???)
  • What have you done to manage the illness and/or bolster your bird’s immune system? (Diet, environment, anything else…?)
  • Is there anything you tried that didn't help, or made it worse?
  • Are there any key symptoms to watch for that might help me catch a flare-up early on?
  • Is there any hope for Newton to recover completely from AGY, or is it simply too late at this point?

Any other suggestions or experiences you can share that might help with this process would definitely be appreciated.

Virtual hugs would also be appreciated because I am doing literally everything I can for Newton but somehow still feel very inadequate. :(

- Jay

P.S. Ultimately this part is out of my hands, but I have also contacted the guy I bought Newton from (who, for the record, has two lovely sun conures of his own — from the same breeder as Newton — and seemed to care very much about the well-being of both his birds and the birds he sold), so he can take whatever action he feels is necessary to keep the rest of his birds safe & healthy.
Bluejay
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Re: Chronic Avian Gastric Yeast (AGY) - Treatment?

Postby Wolf » Fri Jul 22, 2016 6:22 am

I am going to hope that AGY is a misdiagnosis. Do you know what testing was done that led your vet to conclude that this is AGY?

AGY is common in budgies and lovebird and parrotlets and it appears that the best way to eliminate this organism from infecting any new birds is to remove the eggs, clean them and then incubate them. Then prevent the newly hatched birds from contact with the egg or with other birds and hand raise the bird.

Many birds do not exhibit any clinical signs and with the budgies at least if they do they normally die within a day or two. I have a short chapter from a medical text that I would like to send to you. I would post a link or the chapter but it is a PDF and I can't post it. If you would PM me with your e mail address I will send you the file.

You may want to talk to your vet about lactobacillus for your bird as it was shown to either kill the bacterium or at least interrupt it. This information is in this file and may prove useful to you.
Wolf
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Re: Chronic Avian Gastric Yeast (AGY) - Treatment?

Postby Pajarita » Fri Jul 22, 2016 10:30 am

WOW! Two months of antifungal and it still showed in the poop, eh? I would be worried, too, because the normal amphotericin treatment is 30 days and, usually, this results in negative tests after...

Now, I seriously doubt anything you did gave him the fungus. It's usually transmitted through direct contact (as when the parents feed the babies or the males feed the females in the courtship) or through aerosolized poop so it seems to me that he brought it from the breeder or got it at the home of this guy that you bought him from.

There is a chronic form of it but it affects wild birds and little ones like budgies in aviaries where it's pretty impossible to quarantine and treat properly (this chronic form is, usually, the sub-clinical one because the ones that have the severe one die). When a pet bird has it, the treatment normally takes care of it UNLESS the bird's immune system has been compromised, the good bacteria in the digestive system completely depleted, etc - meaning, there has to be other reasons.

MegaBac IS amphotericin that is added to water, not a supplement that would help him fight the disease on his own and I don't think I would consider using it long term as antifungals are REAL hard on their livers.

I have never had a single bird come down with a fungal infection so I don't really have any personal experience with it but I think this is because of the diet I give my birds and the fact that I avoid stress for them as if it was the plague! In your case, I would recommend:
1: Eliminate stress as much as possible. This means a strict solar schedule and good quality full spectrum lights (CRI 94+ and Ktemp 5000-5500) for during the day (you need an endocrine system in good working order or you end up with a depressed immune system) - no taking him out on the street, keep him away from strangers, pets, etc - basically, anything that could stress him out.
2) An extra good and all organic diet. Do you, by any chance, feed pellets and some produce on the side that, sometimes, doesn't really get eaten? I am not criticizing you, I am asking because a pellet diet does not replenish the good bacteria that birds need to 'fight' bad things as the processing 'kills' all the live enzymes and phytonutrients (that's why they have to add the man-made vitamins and minerals, only they can't add enzymes and phytonutrients because they need 'live' food to survive). The only way you can do that is by feeding a fresh food diet (it's the raw produce that provides good bacteria and the best medium for its growth).
3) Steady routines with, at least, 2 to 3 hours of one-on-one and, at least, 5 to 6 hours of out of cage time (this is more than it's usually recommended but you need to make sure there is as little stress as possible and, for a social species like parrots, it means having company all the time)
4) Flight! Nothing dissipates stress hormones from their bloodstream as flying -NOTHING!
5) Natural supplements: I would use organic, unfiltered, unpasteurized apple cider vinegar (the one with the mother - you might be already doing this but you only mention 'apple cider vinegar' so I wasn't sure if it was the 'right' kind or not) as well as aloe vera juice (not gel, juice and ONLY from the inner filet, not the whole leaf) - I would use 1/3 aloe vera juice and 2/3 water plus a spoonful of the vinegar (this measure depends on the size of the water bowl, it could be less). I would also use oregano to flavor his food three times a week, a little bit of garlic twice a week and cinnamon (the real one, the Ceylon, not the 'plain' cinnamon) twice a week -you can also use turmeric and ginger.

I know that most avian vets would keep on prescribing medicine but, in my personal opinion, whenever there is a situation of a long term condition, parrots do much better with a longer but more natural treatment than with the quick and easy one. Mind you, it's not as if I am advocating not taking our birds to the vet or not treating them with medicines! Of course not! All I am saying is that, when it comes to birds, eliminating stress and helping the body fight the problem on its own with natural remedies works better than just continue medicating and medicating.
Pajarita
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Re: Chronic Avian Gastric Yeast (AGY) - Treatment?

Postby Pajarita » Sat Jul 23, 2016 9:51 am

I woke up startled this morning with one thought in my mind: "I forgot to tell her about probiotics! They are super important in treating both bacterial and fungal infections in the digestive tract because they are the soldiers that repeal the enemy and keep the body healthy! But don't buy any old probiotic (not even the so-called 'avian' ones), you need to buy the best and that means the ones with the most strains and with large colonies (CFUs) and which claims have been verified by a third party. I use Keybiotics. By the way, yogurt does not work.
Pajarita
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Gender: This parrot forum member is female
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Re: Chronic Avian Gastric Yeast (AGY) - Treatment?

Postby Bluejay » Sun Jul 24, 2016 2:08 pm

Thank you both for your responses! This is super helpful. And thanks, Wolf, for sending that PDF.

Wolf wrote:Do you know what testing was done that led your vet to conclude that this is AGY?

I don't know for sure, but I gave them a stool sample for the test... I believe it was a gram stain or some other type of microscopic examination. What else do you think it could be other than AGY?

Pajarita wrote:Do you, by any chance, feed pellets and some produce on the side that, sometimes, doesn't really get eaten?

Good guess! You're right. I will work on that right away. Do you have any recommendations for what kind of raw foods might be best? (how about sprouts?)

I've also been thinking about switching over to a gloop-based diet... here is some incentive to get moving on that, I suppose!

I have been using apple cider vinegar with the mother. Will have to find some aloe juice too!

Is this the right probiotic? https://www.amazon.com/Whole-Body-Research-Keybiotics-Probiotics/dp/B00UZSTGEI
I see those are in capsules... how much should I give him at a time? Should I just mix it in with his food?
Bluejay
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Re: Chronic Avian Gastric Yeast (AGY) - Treatment?

Postby Wolf » Mon Jul 25, 2016 6:30 am

It sounds like he did a gram stain, which is not going to be of much use for determining if this is AGY. Although it is a yeast bacteria it is much different than the normal yeast bacteria. This is not my best area which is why I sent you the pdf, it is the best and most accurate information that I have.

There are some areas that I can do pretty well with, but with only 3 to 4 years experience under my belt with parrots I still have a tremendous amount to learn, which is why I am here. Still I do want you to know that I care very much about your bird, almost as if it were my own and although I can't help much and have to wait for some of the more experienced members to answer your questions, I am following this closely and do appreciate any updates.

Did the vet do a blood panel for your bird? And if so what were the results of it?
Wolf
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Re: Chronic Avian Gastric Yeast (AGY) - Treatment?

Postby Pajarita » Thu Jul 28, 2016 10:00 am

Sprouts are good but he also needs ripe fruits which are better for the enzymes (see if you can get any locally grown ones -those are the best!- or, if not, use frozen in the gloop, they are almost as good as fresh). If you are going to do sprouts, try different sizes because not all my birds would eat the ones from the supermarket or the commercial mixes they sell for parrots but they all eat the ones I make for them with a passerine mix called 'soak/sprout mix' (I use ABBA soak seed for canaries and finches) , it's made of small seeds meant for little birds but I sprout them until I see green and then mix them in the gloop.

And see if you can make or get some Komboucha to mix with his water.
Pajarita
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Gender: This parrot forum member is female
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Re: Chronic Avian Gastric Yeast (AGY) - Treatment?

Postby Bluejay » Thu Nov 23, 2017 3:59 pm

Hi all,

Sorry for the extremely delayed update! It has been a little bit of a crazy year, to say the least. (How has it been over a year?) But I wanted to let you all know how things are going, and also provide some information in case someone else ends up in a similar situation.

The short version is: after some "lifestyle changes", including a new diet (and a splash of ACV in his water every day), Newton is still showing no symptoms or signs of avian gastric yeast.

The longer version:

We changed his diet to something along the lines of "shauna's mash" (following these guidelines: http://parrot-chow.livejournal.com/24403.html) and use organic fruits and vegetables whenever possible. Some fresh, some frozen depending on availability. We make a couple different recipes at a time and switch them up occasionally so he gets a good variety of food. We usually sprinkle a couple "fine" Harrison's pellets on top (really just a small pinch). He also gets a few drops of ACV in his water every day -- not enough to make it smell funny, otherwise he wouldn't drink it!

Used probiotics and aloe briefly, but have not continued those in the long term and saw no adverse effects after stopping.

We have been making sure he gets at least 11 hours of sleep every night -- and he often gets more than that. We also bought a sun lamp that we turn on for a little while most mornings, and a couple hours on weekend days. I also have a travel cage that can be carried out to our porch so he can sit with me for a while on sunny days.

(Our blue crown conure, Oliver, has also been switched to the same fresh food diet. He had a habit of chomping on his feathers which has DEFINITELY been helped by that and the sun lamp/sleep schedule!)

I have been doing a LOT of flight/recall training with Newton around the house. He probably flies around (in short bursts) for 10-15 mins a day on average and is quite agile. I wish I could do more! But he also loves trick training that requires his problem-solving abilities, so we do a fair amount of that as well. Now he is learning how to identify colors!

All told he gets about 3-5 hours out of cage time every day (most days). I have also spent a LOT of time getting him acclimated to his birdie backpack (from Caitec), so I can bring him more places in a way that he won't get stressed out. I brought him on his first weekend trip a few weeks ago and I'm happy to say that he showed absolutely no adverse effects! He loves to "explore" the world (while in his backpack) and meet new people (again, from the backpack).

I have not brought Newton back to the vet since the last appointment, so I don't know if the gram stain has improved at all or cleared up. But his mind, behavior, feathers, and weight all appear perfectly healthy and I haven't noticed any issues at all. Hopefully this means we're treating it successfully!

Thank you all again for your input and suggestions. Your advice has been the most helpful!!

-Jay
Bluejay
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Re: Chronic Avian Gastric Yeast (AGY) - Treatment?

Postby Pajarita » Fri Nov 24, 2017 11:31 am

Thank you so very much for giving us an update! We love to hear about birds getting better and are very happy that yours have!
Pajarita
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Gender: This parrot forum member is female
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Flight: Yes


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