Trichomonosis has once again returned to eastern Canada this summer. The disease is caused by the protozoan parasite Trichomonas gallinae which infects the mucosal lining of the oral cavity and upper digestive tract of a variety of bird species including pigeons, raptors, and small passerines. Most commonly during the summer months, this disease affects Purple Finches and American Goldfinches resulting in severe debilitation, emaciation, and necrosis and inflammation of the upper digestive tract. Affected birds are often easily approached and have puffed up feathers, gagging, and feathers around the beak that are wet from regurgitated food.
This year, the CWHC has received numerous reports of suspected sick birds at bird feeders. Once sick birds have been documented at feeders, home owners are strongly encouraged to take down their feeders for the remainder of the season. At this time more than 40 cases of birds with suspected trichomonosis (cases with the correct species and clinical signs but that are not submitted for necropsy) have been reported in the Gaspé peninsula (Quebec), New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island. There have been two confirmed cases of Trichomonosis (cases submitted for necropsy in which the parasites were identified) from NB and NS. Additionally, CWHC Atlantic is involved in a pilot study to assess the effect of weather on the presence trichomonosis as well as how it relates to nestling mortality.
For more information on where the disease has been detected and what you can do to prevent further spread, please visit our website:
Dr. Laura Bourque, CWHC-Atlantic