Nebulisation of Birds (Disease Investigation & Control - Treatment and Care)

Summary Information
Type of technique Health & Management / Disease Investigation & Control / Treatment & Care / Techniques:
Synonyms and Keywords Nebulization
Description Nebulisation is effectively topical application of medication to the upper respiratory passages, and with small-diameter particles also the caudal thoracic and abdominal airsacs and about 20% of lung tissue.

The following description outlines the procedure as described by Forbes (B11.18.w9):

  • Prepare medication, usually in saline.
  • Place bird in a nebulisation chamber (this may be a solid-sided cage with the door covered with a towel or sheet of perspex).
  • Place medication in the administration chamber.
  • Place administration chamber upright within the cage.

Protocol: nebulise for 10 to 30 minutes, two to four times daily (B13.15.w10); 30 minutes, three to four times daily (B14); 15-20 minutes four to five times daily (B11.18.w9).

Appropriate Use (?)
  • No handling required during administration.
  • Local application of medication to the upper respiratory tract.
  • Allows use of drugs which may be toxic if given parenterally.
  • Low stress levels from repeated medication.
  • Humidification effect on the respiratory system may be of use.
  • Vehicles such as tyloxapol may provide better dispersal than saline (B14).
  • Usually used in combination with systemic therapy.
Complications/ Limitations / Risk
  • Drugs do not reach lower respiratory tract or blood.
  • May lead to environmental contamination - possible risk to staff.
  • Aerosolised particles 3-7 micrometres diameter are likely to be deposited on the mucosal surface of the nasal cavity and trachea (B11.5.w18).
  • Drops/particles 1-3 micrometers diameter are required to establish local drug levels in the lungs and air sacs.
  • Require electrical supply (e.g. mains or car battery).
  • As little as 20% of the respiratory tract may be reached by nebulisation.
Equipment / Chemicals required and Suppliers
  • Nebuliser.
  • Nebulisation chamber.
  • Appropriate medication.
Expertise level / Ease of Use Simple to use.
Cost/ Availability
  • Nebulisers may be obtained from human hospitals or from hospital suppliers.
  • Cost in the UK in the region of 100.
Legal and Ethical Considerations In some countries there may be legislation restricting the diagnosis and treatment of disease in animals to licensed veterinarians. For example in the UK: "The Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966 (Section 19) provides, subject to a number of exceptions, that only registered members of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons may practice veterinary surgery."(see: LCofC1 - RCVS Guide to Professional Conduct 2000 - Treatment of Animals by Non-Veterinary Surgeons).).

Use of Drugs (Medication):

  • Many drugs are not registered for use in particular bird species and care should be taken in their use, with proper regard for possible toxic effects. Consideration should be give to relevant legislation regarding the use of drugs.
  • In the UK, guidelines regarding the use of drugs are set out in the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons Guide to Professional Conduct 2000: (see: LCofC1 - RCVS Guide to Professional Conduct 2000 - Choice of Medicinal Products).
References B11.5.w18, B11.18.w9, B13.15.w10, B13.17.w16, B14

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