Quarantine procedure for foster and newly adopted birds
Whether fostering or adopting, all new birds must complete a quarantine period in a new home before being introduced into your flock.
Why quarantine? Moving to a new home is stressful, and the stress may make the bird susceptible to pre-existing or new illnesses. If you do not quarantine, your flock will be exposed to this new bird and its illness. The results can be expensive, time consuming, and even deadly. If foster bird(s) and/or personal bird(s) become sick due to quarantine violations, the foster/adoptive parent is responsible.
TIME PERIOD Minimum of 4-6 weeks
- During this time, observe your bird closely for any signs of illness, including, but not limited to severe loss of energy or vitality, blood, diarrhea, watery droppings, discharge from the nose, eyes, or mouth, respiratory distress, and seizures. Make sure the bird is eating. A sudden change in environment can be traumatic for a bird and cockatiels in particular, may stop eating. Even if they appear to be toying with the food, be sure they continue to poop regularly and to drink water. If you don’t see the bird eating from the regular food dish, offer treats such as millet or wheat toast. It is more important for the bird to eat, especially during a transition period, even if their diet isn’t as healthy as it should be.
- Weigh the bird regularly, with a gram scale if possible. If you don’t have a scale, ask the director about getting one. Keep a record of the bird’s weight. Watch for sudden or significant weight loss.
- Also watch for signs of plucking and other issues the bird may develop from stress.
- If the bird is in immediate danger, take it directly to the emergency vet. Contact the Director if you have any questions. The care of the bird is always the most important. Contact the director and/or assistant director as soon as possible. If you cannot reach anyone, take the bird to the vet as soon as possible.
- If the bird is stable, contact the director to get authorization for a vet visit. (foster birds only)
- A sick bird should remain quarantined until it tests negative for illness and has completed any medications. Foster birds should complete any medications before being released to an adopter.
- Quarantined birds must be kept in a secure room, away from the rest of your flock. The room should have a door that can secure this space and prevent any of your flock from accidentally entering this room.
- Ideally, this room should have a separate source of fresh air. At the very least, the home’s air-intake for furnace and A/C should not originate in the quarantine room. HEPA or other good quality air filters (without ionizers) are good ideas for any quarantine space to limit the stress on the quarantine bird’s immune system.
- New quarantined birds mean a new quarantine room. Unless they come to your home on the same day, keep new bird additions in a separate room from older additions.
- Even if your new bird looks healthy, your bird may be carrying bacteria or viruses that could easily be spread to the rest of your flock. Remember, birds hide illness!
- It may be advantageous to keep an apron or over-shirt in the quarantine room to wear while handling the quarantine bird(s) and while cleaning their cages. Wash your hands after removing the protective garment. Remember that your clothes can transport dander, fecal matter, and bacteria. If there is any possibility that your quarantine bird may have a contagious condition, or if other bird(s) in the house is/are vulnerable to infection, it is best to change your outer clothes after handling quarantine birds.
- If you are medicating a quarantine bird, keep the medication, syringe, etc. away from dishes, food and medicine being used for other birds. Wash your hands before and after handling the medication and syringe.
- Provide your new bird with a sterilized cage, perches, dishes and new toys.
- After your bird is settled in and before quarantine is completed, throw away any old toys and perches that can’t be sterilized.
- Change cage liners daily and consider the use of a grate. Lightly misting the cage liner with water before clean-up will help reduce the amount of dander and fecal matter that gets kicked into the air during cleaning.
- If possible, use a HEPA or other good quality air filter (without ionizer) to help reduce airborne antigens, fecal mater, and dander.
- Wash quarantine crocks and dishes in a different sink than your flock’s or at least a different dish scrubbing brush. Sterilize the scrub brush and dishes thoroughly in the dishwasher.
- No sharing between quarantine flocks. No sharing used food, water, dishes, toys, hands, shoulders, humans, etc.
- Quarantine your home, avoid external exposure. If you walk through areas outside your home with duck, geese, and other bird droppings, do not take these shoes into the home. If you visit zoos, aviaries, pet stores, other friend’s homes and handle the birds and/or reptiles, wash your hands and change your clothes before or as soon as you get home.