Amazon parrots require a high level of responsibility and commitment. They are loud birds, and demand a lot of attention and interaction from the people in the household. If kept healthy, the parrot can live as long as 60 years. Parrot owners can prevent most common diseases by cleaning and maintaining the bird’s enclosure daily and carefully monitoring the bird’s behavior.
According to aviary veterinarian Margaret Wissman, bacterial infections are the most commonly diagnosed diseases in her practice. Bacterial infections are easier to prevent than they are to treat. Fresh, non-chlorinated water, preferably not in a flat open bowl, is the easiest way to prevent bacterial infections. Chlamydiosis is another common bacterial disease in Amazon parrots. Symptoms include loss of appetite and nasal discharge. Parrot owners should not attempt over-the-counter treatments for this disease. Rather, the bird should be taken to a veterinarian, who will prescribe antibiotics.
Many viruses that infect parrots are airborne and difficult to isolate and control. This is especially problematic when multiple birds live together in the same cage. Polyoma virus kills baby birds within 24 to 48 hours of infection. Adult birds carry the virus and pass it on to the young. There is a vaccine that will prevent infection. Amazon parrots are also susceptible to papilloma. This virus is similar to human warts. Veterinarians can surgically remove papilloma from infected birds.
Obesity is common in Amazon parrots, and owners must carefully monitor the bird’s diet to keep it healthy. Obesity in parrots, as in humans, can lead to other health problems. A seed-based diet can lead to liver problems, including fatty liver syndrome, and to vitamin A deficiency. These problems are preventable by switching the bird from a seed-based diet to a pellet-based diet, supplemented with fresh fruits and vegetables.
Cancer and Tumors
Older Amazons in particular can develop benign or malignant tumors in any organ or system. Amazon parrots are particularly susceptible to liver cancer, especially if their liver has been weakened by a seed-based diet. Obese birds may develop lipomas, which are benign but can affect strength and movement. Fibromas are tumors on the parrot’s wing. They must be surgically removed and can result in amputation of the wing.
Jennifer Mueller began writing and editing professionally in 1995, when she became sports editor of her university's newspaper while also writing a bi-monthly general interest column for an independent tourist publication. Mueller holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science from the University of North Carolina at Asheville and a Juris Doctor from Indiana University Maurer School of Law.