African Grey Parrot Diseases

Written by g.d. palmer
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African Grey Parrot Diseases
African Grey parrots are subject to a number of dangerous diseases. (parrot image by Ivonne Wierink from

African Grey parrots are among the more well-known species kept as pets. These birds may seem reserved or shy but can become very affectionate pets with regular handling, especially if handled early. These birds are very intelligent and like a lot of stimulation. Unfortunately, African Greys are also particularly subject to certain diseases.

Calcium/Phosphorus Imbalance

Low blood calcium levels, often caused by an excess of phosphorus in the diet, may result in seizures. According to Avian Web, this is most common in birds between the ages of 2 and 5 years. This disease can be treated with calcium and vitamin D supplements, as well as regular access to natural sunlight. Vets may treat birds suffering from seizures with intravenous calcium gluconate and diazepam, an antispasmodic.


Aspergillosis is a fungal infection of the lungs and respiratory system. It can also spread to the gastrointestinal tract. Symptoms include weight loss, nasal discharge, diarrhoea, frayed feathers and a flaky beak, seizures and itching. The disease is most likely to strike parrots with decreased immune defence, caused by old age, unsanitary cage conditions, loneliness or a bad diet. Treatment with antifungal drugs may help, but aspergillosis is often fatal.


Psittacine Beak and Feather Disease, also called PBFD, is a contagious viral disease that is often fatal. Birds that are far enough along to show symptoms usually die, though some African Greys develop only a mild infection, then improve. Younger birds are more likely to get the acute form, which includes digestive symptoms, depression, abnormal feather development and weight loss. Older birds may get the chronic form, which causes lesions on the beak and mouth, abnormal feather and beak growth and loss of feather dust.


Psittacine Proventricular Dilatation Syndrome, or PPDS, is also called PDD and Neuropathic Gastric Dilatation. This disease is believed to be caused by a virus, can be spread to other birds and has a high mortality rate. It causes the nerves that control the digestive system to malfunction, resulting in regurgitation, failure to digest seeds, depression and damage to the central nervous system. Birds with PPDS may be unable to perch, have seizures or become paralysed. Special diets and some anti-inflammatory drugs may reduce the symptoms, but there is no cure.

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