Evaluating 21-day doxycycline and azithromycin treatments for experimental Chlamydophila psittaci infection in cockatiels (Nymphicus hollandicus)

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To determine the efficacy of 21-day therapy with azithromycin and doxycycline in the treatment of experimental infection with Chlamydophila psittaci in cockatiels (Nymphicus hollandicus), 30 birds randomly assigned to 3 treatment groups and 1 control group were inoculated with C psittaci by combined intranasal and ocular routes. Morbidity, mortality, and results of polymerase chain reaction testing confirmed that infection was successful. Birds in group 1 (n = 8) received azithromycin at 40 mg/kg PO q48h for 21 days; in group 2 (n = 8), doxycycline at 35 mg/kg PO q24h for 21 days; in group 3 (n = 8), doxycycline at 35 mg/kg PO q24h for 45 days; and, in group 4 (controls; n = 6), no treatment. Six birds died either before or within 2 days of initiating treatment: 4 in the 3 treatment groups and 2 in the control group. Clinical signs resolved and mortality ceased 2-6 days after treatment was initiated in all treatment groups, whereas birds in the control group exhibited clinical signs for the duration of the study. Plasma doxycycline concentrations were measured during the treatment period and exceeded 1 microg/mL at all time points. The absence of clinical signs and mortality in the treatment groups, even after inducing an immunocompromised state with dexamethasone (3 mg/kg IM q24h for 5 days), starting on day 70 postinoculation, suggested that treatment resulted in elimination of the pathogen. After euthanasia of the remaining 24 birds, 23 of the carcasses were submitted for necropsy. Spleen and liver samples from the birds in all treatment and control groups were polymerase chain reaction negative for C psittaci nucleic acid, and organisms were not detected by Gimenez stain. No gross or histologic differences were observed in the livers and spleens of treated and untreated infected birds. Lesions consistent with avian chlamydiosis (hystiocytosis) were seen in all birds and were considered residual. In this study, a 21-day course of either doxycycline or azithromycin was effective in eliminating C psittaci infection in experimentally inoculated cockatiels. Additional studies are necessary to evaluate the efficacy of these treatments in naturally infected cockatiels as well as other species of birds.

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Journal of avian medicine and surgery

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