Overnight avian chlamydiosis Infection?Q: I recently purchased a pair of sun conures, delivered by the breeder to my home. The hen had an abrasion on her left leg, which has a band on it. The seller stated that this injury occurred during their drive to our home. I took the bird to our veterinarian the next day and had her checked out. It turns out the bird has a 36,000 white blood cell count and is anemic with a red blood cell of 32 percent. Could this injury have caused this elevation of white blood cells in such a short period of time? And could the anemia have been caused by the same injury?
A: It is very doubtful, in my opinion, that the leg abrasion could have become infected and mounted the type of immune response you describe in just a 24-hour period. This process is usually longer in nature and is associated with a chronic (long-standing) infectious disease. The fact that the bird also has anemia speaks to the probability that this was a long-standing disease process.
You have not listed the differential white blood cell count, so I cannot make further statements about the nature of the infection. Also, Gram's stain and cytology results would help with a diagnosis.
Bacterial and Chlamydial disease are the most common causes of this type of blood picture. Klebsiella bacterial infection often elevates the white count to these ranges and is commonly a cause of anemia.
Chlamydia psittaci is the cause of psittacosis and is very common in our captive-bred psittacines. Chlamydia may well be the problem in this case and should be treated appropriately with doxycycline, once you have the definitive diagnosis. I use the three-part Chlamydia test from the University of Georgia, which tests for 1) antibody, 2) Chlamydial DNA in white blood cells and 3) Chlamydial DNA being shed in fecal samples.
Chlamydia can cause infection in many organs. Liver infection is common, and liver enlargement (hepatomegaly) can often be seen on radiographs. Spleen enlargement is also a classic sign of chlamydiosis and can be appreciated on radiographs as well. Liver enzymes are often elevated on biochemical blood tests.
I hope your pair does well and you find a simple solution to the problem. It sounds like some more good veterinary work is required.