Do Cockatiels Need Yearly Vaccinations?

Any breed of bird can catch the polyomavirus.
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Cockatiels are good pets for first-time bird owners. These pint-size parrots are easy to maintain and provide hours of entertainment for the family. Vaccination is optional for cockatiels, but generally any cockatiel who may encounter other birds be vaccinated against polyomavirus.

The Polyomavirus

The polyomavirus is a disease that can infect almost all species of birds, from those feeding in your backyard to exotic parrots in cages worldwide. Birds who contract the polyomavirus need to have immediate veterinary care since they can become very ill and are contagious. Both younger and older cockatiels can get polyomavirus through contact with other birds, feces, dander and aerosolized particles.

Signs and Symptoms of Polyomavirus

Cockatiels are particularly notorious for hiding sickness, so it is important to note any unusual behavioral changes. The first signs of polyomavirus are typically tiredness, depression, diarrhea and lack of interest in food. If your cockatiel is acting out of the norm, seek the help of a trained veterinarian who can help diagnose illness.

Prevention Through Vaccination

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Since detecting illness in cockatiels is often difficult, the first step toward protecting against polyomavirus is to vaccinate your bird, no sooner than 40 days after hatching. Since the vaccine is an inactive form of the virus, your cockatiel will need a booster two weeks after the first injection. A booster is given annually at your bird’s physical to ensure he remains protected against polyomavirus.

Vaccination Safety

Vaccination against the polyomavirus protects your cockatiel from potential illness. It's safe. A small needle injects the vaccine just under your bird’s skin; it will feel like a slight prick. A few side effects are reported after vaccination, primarily redness or irritation at the site of injection, although serious complications have occurred. Vaccination against polyomavirus is a decision only an owner can make; however, vaccination is important for cockatiels who will spend time around other birds, even if only during boarding. If your cockatiel will remain inside your home and away from other birds, vaccination might not be necessary.

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