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Bali Mynah Medical Protocols

last updated September 16th, 2007

    Terry M. Norton, DVM, Dipl. ACZM

    Veterinary Advisor for the US Bali mynah SSP and Reintroduction Project

    St. Catherines Island Center

    182 Camelia Road

    Midway, GA 31320

    Ph: 912-884-5005

    Fax: 912-884-5007


  1. Please refer to the document entitled: Atoxoplasma Medical Protocols recommended by the passerine atoxoplasma working group for up to date information on Atoxoplasma biology, diagnostics, and medical management.
  1. Other Endo- and Ectoparasites

    Screening Schedule: A minimum of 2 fecal direct and flotation examinations should be performed yearly. It is recommended that all institutions follow the Atoxoplasma diagnostic protocol on each bird on at least one occasion. Feathers should be checked for lice during the physical examination. If endoparasites are found send them to Dr. Greiner for identification and prepare them in the following manner:

    Whenever possible place parasites from different organs into different labeled containers initially in physiological saline. Each label should indicate identification number of the bird, organ from which the parasite was removed, date and collector’s name. 
    –Trematodes and cestodes should be placed in a dish containing either tap water or physiological saline and then placed in the refrigerator for a few hours to relax. They should then be fixed in AFA (85 ml of 85% ethanol, 10-ml commercial formalin, and 5-ml glacial acetic acid). Specimens may be stored and sent to Dr. Greiner in this solution. It is best to allow large tapeworms to flatten as much as possible and not pack them too tightly, as representative sections need to be mounted flat to see structures necessary for identification. Be sure you have included scolices with tapeworms, as these structures are often lost, in most cases resulting in non-identification. 
    –Nematodes should be dipped in concentrated glacial acetic acid or hot 70% ethanol to fix them in as straight posture as possible. After they have stopped writhing, transfer them into glycerin-alcohol (90 ml 70% ethanol, 10-ml glycerin). They may be store indefinitely in this solution. They can be cleared for identification by adding glycerin or mount in glycerin jelly (requires ringing of coverslip). A short term, quick alternative, is to clear roundworms in lactophenol (2 parts glycerin, 1 part distilled water, 1 part melted phenol crystals and 1 part liquid lactic acid). After identification, specimens should be removed from the lactophenol and returned to glycerin-alcohol. 
    –The acanthocephalans require special attention due to their attachment to the gut wall by the holdfast organ. Most of these parasites can not be simply pulled loose from the gut wall without destroying the main taxonomic structure-the proboscis. These worms should either be dissected free of the host tissue or left attached to the gut wall without fixation. If separated from the host tissue, then place the parasite in tap water overnight to allow proboscis eversion, and then fix in AFA as above.

    –For more information please contact Dr. Ellis Greiner.

    List of Commonly Observed Parasites

    Atoxoplasma spp


    Capillaria spp


    Feather lice

    Recommended Treatments for Various Parasites

    –refer to the Atoxoplasma treatment protocols

    –praziquantel (Droncit) 25 mg/kg orally or IM, repeat in 10 to 14 days (tapeworms)

    –fenbendazole (Panacur) 50 mg/kg once daily for 3 days orally or ivermectin at 400 micrograms/kg orally (dilute with propylen glycol), repeat both drugs in 10 to 14 days (Capillaria spp and other nematodes).

    Birds with chronic parasite problems may need to be placed on a rotational deworming program.


    Adult Birds

    1. CBC
    2. Chemistry panel with emphasis on liver values
    3. Physical examination
    4. whole body x-ray
    5. fecal bacterial culture
    6. fecal exam for parasites
    7. Atoxoplasma diagnostics described in separate document; treat if indicated or discuss situation with receiving institution so that treatment can be performed while bird is in quarantine

    Fledgling chicks

    A neonatal examination is recommended shortly after fledging occurs, as the bird is being transferred to a new enclosure. The examination should include a body weight, a thorough physical exam, complete blood count, buffy coat smear for Atoxoplasma assessment, serum biochemistry panel (if possible), and fecal examination. If the fledgling bird appears unthrifty, the Atoxoplasma diagnostic protocol should be followed.



    A thorough necropsy should be performed on Bali mynahs that die at institutions housing this species. In addition to the institution’s regular necropsy protocol, the following protocol should be performed.

    1) Collect a small section of all major tissues (heart, lung, airsac (on a piece of paper towel), thymus, bursa, crop, proventriculus, multiple sections of intestine, pancreas, kidney, adrenal gland, gonad, oviduct, muscle, bone marrow, and brain) in 10% buffered formalin. Three impression smears should be made of the liver and spleen and fixed. Very small chicks should be opened up and placed in 10% formalin. Submit tissues to the pathologist of your choice. Please send all necropsy results to Dr. Terry Norton at

    2) Include a description of the gross findings, body weight in grams at the time of death, important clinical history (including current diet).

    3) Anaerobic, aerobic, and fungal cultures of various lesions should be taken when indicated. Please send a copy of the results to Dr. Norton.

    4) Two sections of liver, spleen, kidney, and any tissue with obvious gross lesions should be frozen at -30 to -70 degrees C (if possible) for future viral isolation, mycobacterial, bacterial, or fungal culture.

    The above protocol has been established in order to standardize necropsies performed on Bali mynahs.  


    Bali mynahs are predisposed to iron storage disease and should be fed a low iron diet. Please click on "Nutrition” in the Husbandry Manual for details of specific low iron diets.


    Hemochromatosis or iron storage disease is caused by excessive iron accumulation that incites an inflammatory response in various body organs, especially the liver. Eventually this process may lead to fibrosis and end stage liver disease.

    Hemochromatosis is relatively common in the Bali mynah as well as numerous other avian species. Fifteen out of seventy Bali mynah postmortems submitted to the veterinary advisor documented some degree of iron accumulation and inflammation and/or fibrosis. The exact cause of the disease in avian species is unknown, but appears to be multifactorial. High dietary iron has been shown to be one of the factors causing hemochromatosis in birds.

    A liver biopsy is the method of choice to confirm hemochromatosis. A thorough history, physical exam, whole body radiographs, serum liver enzymes, albumin, and serum bile acid levels may aid in a presumptive diagnosis. Serum iron levels do not correlate with hepatic histopathology in birds or humans with hemochromatosis, but can be utilized to monitor therapy.

    For therapy to be successful, early diagnosis of hemochromatosis is essential. Therapy consists of lowering dietary iron levels below 150 ppm. Ascorbic acid increases iron absorption from the gastrointestinal tract, thus citrus fruits should be fed only in limited quantities. The following protocol has been used successfully to treat a Bali mynah (Loomis et al., 1993) with hemochromatosis and is currently recommended by the SSP. 

Protocol for treating hemochromatosis in the Bali mynah:

      1. Remove a blood volume equal to 1% of the bird’s body weight. 
      2. Wait 2-4 days to allow iron mobilization for red blood cell production. 
      3. Administer Deferoxamine mesylate (Desferal mesylate, CIBA Pharmaceutical Co., Summit, New Jersey), an iron chelating agent, at a dose of 40 mg/kg IM SID for 7 days 
      4. Wait one week. 
      5. Repeat steps 1-4 five times. 
      6. Hematological and serum biochemical parameters should be monitored during treatment and appropriate adjustments should be made if necessary 
      7.  If the bird is in liver failure this treatment may result in the death of the bird. 


  • Aspergillosis
  • Cervical and breast feather plucking (appears to be related to environmental deprivation in some cases and may have a genetic component)
  • Hyperkeratosis of the skin of the legs in older birds (this can become severe enough to cause a leg band to become too tight)
  • Trauma from conspecifics or predators

       13. PHYSIOLOGICAL NORMS (normal values may be obtained from MedARKS)

       14. IMMOBILIZATION (recommended drugs and dosages)

    Isoflurane is the anesthetic of choice. Ketamine at a total dose of 4 mg IM in an adult birds was utilized on several Bali mynahs in Indonesia for surgical sexing. No side effects were noted and recoveries were fairly rapid  (approximately 2 hrs). The birds were recovered in a small cardboard box.

       15. LIFESPAN

    Unknown in the wild. In captivity, ages up to 19 years have been recorded and 7-12 is considered a reasonable estimate of longevity.


    1. Box ED. Blood and tissue protozoa of the English sparrow (Passer domesticus domesticus) in Galveston, Texas. J Protozool 1966; 13(2): 204-208.

    2. Box ED. Exogenous stages of Isospora serini sp. in the canary (Serinus canarius Linnaeus). J Protozool 1975; 22(2):165-169.

    3. Dorrenstein GM, Vander Hage MN, Zwart P. Diseases of passerines, especially canaries and finches. Proc Annu Conf Assoc Avian Vet 1985; 53-70.

    4. Dorrenstein GM. Veterinary problems in mynah birds. Proc Annu Conf Assoc Avian Vet 1988; 263-274.

    5. Dorrenstein GM. Infectious diseases and their therapy in passeriforms, antimicrobial therapy in caged birds and exotic pets: an international symposium, NA Vet Conf 1995; 11-27.

    6. Flammer K, Butterworth SA, Whitt DA. Atoxoplasmosis in canaries. AFA Watchbird 1989; August/September: 24-26.

    7. Greiner EC, Norton TM, Latimer KS et al. Atoxoplasmosis-an impediment to the Bali mynah (Leucopsar rothschildi) Species Survival Plan. Proc Joint Conf AAZV, WDA, and AAWV 1995:211.

    8. Khan RA, Desser SS. Avian Lankesterella infections in Algonquin Park, Ontario. Can J Zool 1971; 49: 1105-1110.

    9. King WB. Endangered birds of the world, ICBP bird red data book. 
    Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institutuion Press, 1981.

    10. Levine MD. The genus Atoxoplasma ( Protozoa, Apicomplexa). J Parasitol 1982; 

    11. Loomis MR, Wright JF. Treatment of iron storage disease in a Bali mynah.

    Proc Annu Conf Assoc Zoo Vet 1993; 28.

    12. Norton TM, Seibels RE, Greiner EC, et al. Bali mynah captive medical management and reintroduction program. Proc Annu Conf Asoc Avian Vets 1995:


    13. Panigahy B, Senne DA. Diseases of mynahs: review article. J Am Vet Med Assoc 1991; 199(3):378-381.

    14. Partington CJ, Gardiner CH, Fritz D, et al. Atoxoplasma in Bali mynahs. J Zoo Wildl Med 1989; 20(3):328-335.

    Poelma FG, Zwart, Strick WJ. Lankesterella (Atoxoplasma, Ghariani, 1950) infections in birds in the Netherlands. Neth J Vet Sci 1971; 4:43-50.

    Upton SJ, Wilson SC, Norton TM, et al. A new species of Isospora (Apicomplexa: Eimeriidae) from Rothschild Mynah Leucopsar rothschildi (Passeriformes: Sturnidae), J Parasitology, 2000, in press.

    17. Van Helvoort BE, Soetawidjaja MN, Hartojo P. The Rothschild’s mynah (Leucopsar rothschildi Stresmann 1912); its current status and need for conservation. ASEAN Workshop on Wildl Res and Manag Conserv PHPA, Bogor, Indonesia 1990; 115-131.


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