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Bird Health Notes – Bacterial and Viral Sinus Infections (Sinusitis)

Pet birds of all kinds sneeze on occasion, and such is not always cause for alarm. However, sneezing can also be the first sign of a sinus infection, and so should signal us to pay extra attention. When accompanied by nasal or eye discharge, or red, swollen eyes, immediate action is necessary.

Bird Sinus Structure and Disease

As in people, bird sinuses are arranged in a complicated network of moist, narrow channels that are perfect breeding grounds for bacteria and viruses. A lack of certain vitamins and minerals, especially Vitamin A, may also pre-dispose birds to sinusitis. As anyone who has had such an infection can attest, bacteria spread rapidly throughout these passageways – when such happens to birds, it can mean a progression from mild to life-threatening illness in short order.


Birds inflicted with sinusitis may appear well at first, occasionally sneezing but otherwise behaving normally. Once the condition progresses, however, nasal and eye discharges will become evident, and the afflicted bird will become lethargic and reluctant to feed.

The bacteria-generated accumulation of hard, waxy material in the sinus cavities behind the eyes will cause the eyes to run, redden and swell. Sick birds will often rub their eyes on perches in an attempt to relieve the pressure, sometimes causing additional trauma in the process.


Early treatment is of utmost importance where sinusitis is concerned. The chance of successfully combating the invading virus or bacterium decreases rapidly as populations build and the bird’s immune system weakens. Veterinary attention is a must…please write in if you need a referral to an experienced avian veterinarian.

Further Reading

You can read about sinusitis from a veterinarian’s perspective at http://www.vetafarm.com/pages/Sinusitis-in-birds-.html.


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