Diseases / List of Miscellaneous / Metabolic / Multifactorial Diseases / Disease description:

Wet-Feather in Waterfowl

INFORMATION AVAILABLE

GENERAL INFORMATION

CLINICAL CHARACTERISTICS & PATHOLOGY

INVESTIGATION & DIAGNOSIS

TREATMENT & CONTROL

SUSCEPTIBILITY & TRANSMISSION

ENVIRONMENT & GEOGRAPHY

 

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General and References

Disease Summary

WATERFOWL Feather structure damage leading to loss of waterproofing.

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Alternative Names (Synonyms)

  • Shaft-lice Infection
  • Sooty Mould Exposure

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Disease Type

 Miscellaneous / Metabolic / Multifactorial

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Infectious/Non-Infectious Agent associated with the Disease

  • Shaft louse or biting louse Holomenopon leucoxanthom (B10.26.w11, B11.35.w3, B13.46.w1, B46, J8.17.w1, P4.1992.w1)
  • Mould spores e.g. Cladasporum herbarum - sooty mould, from Osier willows (B11.35.w3, V.w3).
  • Also:
  • lack of water to bathe in
  • soiling of feathers with mud or droppings, or from dirty/dusty bedding
  • contamination of plumage with oil or surfactants
  • physical damage to feathers

(B11.35.w3, B95, D214.2.w2, J2.12.w2)

Infective "Taxa"

Non-infective agents

Physical agents

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References

Disease Author

Debra Bourne
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Major References / Reviews

Code and Title List

B10.26.w11, B11.35.w3, B13.46.w1, B37.x.w1, B46, B95
J2.12.w2
J3
.97.w3
J8.17.w1.
V.w3

Other References

Code and Title List

J7.30.w2, J7.33.w3, J7.34.w1, J7.43.w1
D214.2.w2
P4.1992.w1

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Clinical Characteristics and Pathology

Detailed Clinical and Pathological Characteristics

General

WATERFOWL Loss of waterproofing and damage to feathers.

Clinical Characteristics

WATERFOWL
  • Plumage tatty, dirty, broken, waterlogged.
  • Excessive preening - may be continuous, particularly with lice, due to irritation, or decreased with severe debility.
  • Bird may become wet through to the skin and chilled; pneumonia is a possible consequence.
  • Loss of waterproofing and buoyancy may lead to drowning

(B10.26.w11, B11.35.w3, B13.46.w1, B37.x.w1, B46, B95, J3.97.w3, J8.17.w1).

Incubation

WATERFOWL --

Mortality / Morbidity

WATERFOWL Can lead to death from pneumonia or drowning if waterlogged (J3.97.w3, B11.35.w3, B46).

Pathology

WATERFOWL General Pathology:
  • Plumage damaged and wet; feathers may be broken and barbules disrupted.

Specific Syndromes:

  • Shaft louse (Holomenopon leucoxanthum) infection: Preen gland may be reddened and dysfunctional Small (1-2mm) lice may be found on the feather shafts within the feather follicles (J3.97.w3, B37.x.w1, B46).
  • Sooty mould - black dust visible on feathers; more easily seen in birds with pale plumage (V.w3).
  • Preen gland dysfunction: preen gland may be inflamed with e.g. bacterial infection, or may be inactive.
  • Detergent contamination: feather structure is normal (but lowered surface tension of water allows the water to penetrate the barbules). (J2.12.w2)

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Human Health Considerations

None (B37.x.w1).

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Susceptibility / Transmission

General information on Susceptibility / Transmission

WATERFOWL --

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Disease has been reported in either the wild or in captivity in:

[N.B. Miscellaneous / Traumatic Diseases tend to be under-reported and the majority are likely to affect all waterfowl species, given exposure to the related disease agents/factors.]
  • Andean crested duck - Lophonetta (Anas) specularioides alticola - Holomenopon leucoxanthum infection, UK (J3.97.w3)
  • White-backed duck Thalassornis leuconotus (J7.33.w3)
  • Northern goose or geese (J7.34.w1).
  • Swan(s) (J7.43.w1)
  • 'Sawbills' (J7.30.w2)
  • Ducks (with Holomenopon) (B46).
  • Swans, snow geese Anser caerulescens, Chiloe wigeon Anas sibilatrix, Puna teal Anas puna and other species with sooty mould (V.w3).

Host Species List

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Disease has been specifically reported in Free-ranging populations of:

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Host Species List

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Environment/Geography

General Information on Environmental Factors/Events and Seasonality

  • Cladosporium herbarum - sooty mould, is associated with Osier willows Salix viminalis. Mould is reduced by severe winters and may become more of a problem following mild winters (B11.35.w3, V.w3).
  • Soiling with mud or droppings, and excessive dust, are generally associated with poor environment, bad hygiene and overcrowding.
  • Soiling with faeces can also occur in highly aquatic birds being maintained on land, for example while being treated for oiling. (D214.2.w2)
  • Oiling is associated with environmental contamination with oil.

(B11.35.w3).

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Regions / Countries where the Infectious Agent or Disease has been recorded

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Regions / Countries where the Infectious Agent or Disease has been recorded in Free-ranging populations

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General Investigation / Diagnosis

General Information on Investigation / Diagnosis

WATERFOWL History, clinical signs and clinical examination: possible environmental and behavioural factors, presence of lice, mould or contaminants on feathers.
  • Holomenopon leucoxanthom: presence of small, rapidly-moving louse, on feather shafts (more likely to be visible if feather plucked) and particularly around preen gland; preen gland inactive (J3.97.w3, B37.x.w1, B46). N.B. lice may be present asymptomatically in small numbers on healthy birds (B11.35.w3).
  • Cladasporum herbarum: presence of osier willows (Salix viminalis), presence of mould visible on the trees and/or on the affected bird. N.B. mould may not be easy to see on dark plumage (B11.35.w3, V.w3).
  • Presence of oil, mud or other contaminant, poor environment, lack of water for bathing (B11.35.w3).
  • Widespread physical damage to feathers (B11.35.w3).
Related Techniques
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Similar Diseases (Differential Diagnosis)

WATERFOWL Lack of preening secondary to illness, debility or depression. N.B. heavy louse infection may be secondary to underlying illness/debility (B11.35.w3).

See also Feather Lice Infection, Chilling / Hypothermia, Oiling.

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Treatment and Control

Specific Medical Treatment

WATERFOWL
  • For Holomenopon leucoxanthom: dust with topical 'louse powder' - malathion or carbamate, two treatments 14 days apart. Care not to leave excess powder on the bird in case of ingestion and possible toxicity (B10.26.w11, B13.46.w1, B37.x.w1, B46, J8.17.w1).
  • N.B. avoid 'oily' preparations which may interfere with waterproofing (B11.35.w3, B37.x.w1).
Related Techniques

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General Nursing and Surgical Techniques

WATERFOWL
  • Remove from unhygienic or contaminated environment.
  • Wash to remove oil, mud or other contaminants.
  • Provide water to encourage bathing after gross contamination has been removed, or when lack of water for bathing has stopped the bird from preening. N.B. take care as a waterlogged bird may drown even in very shallow (few centimetres deep) water.
  • Lightly spraying with water may encourage preening in a depressed bird.
  • Return to normal environment only when waterproofing has returned. N.B. this may not occur until after the next moult.

(B11.35.w3, B95).

Related Techniques
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Preventative Measures

Vaccination WATERFOWL --
Prophylactic Treatment

WATERFOWL

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Related Techniques

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Environmental and Population Control Measures

General Environment Changes, Cleaning and Disinfection

WATERFOWL

  • Avoid development of excessively muddy or faecal-contaminated environment.
  • Remove Salix viminalis - osier willows, or keep birds away from the trees.

(B11.35.w3).

Population Control Measures WATERFOWL --
Isolation, Quarantine and Screening WATERFOWL --
Related Techniques
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