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Living with PDD: Chile's Story

Chile the Blue and Gold Macaw, Surviving PDD

Chile's story is published unaltered with permission from the author of the story, John Stuedle.

Chile a few hours after her last crop biopsy on July 1, 2002. Notice the small red spot and mark from the biopsy.

Hi, my name is John Stuedle. And this is Chile a  PDD survivor. She came to us as a rescue in March of 2000. While in quarantine and waiting for blood work to come back for the battery of tests that we can run on all new birds, we noticed she began passing whole seed. This you may know is one of the signals that our new love might be suffering from PDD. Having dealt with PDD in the past, we were in a panic. We took her back to our vet's office, Dr. Bob Dahlausen of Milford Ohio.

Dr. Bob as we affectionately call him had diagnosed and treated our previous three birds that had suffered and died from this hideous disease. He shot an x-ray of her and made a preliminary diagnosis that is was in PDD and firmed up the diagnosis with a crop biopsy, positive for the type of nerve damage consistent with PDD. We new that there was no cure for our previous birds, and had already resigned ourselves to the fact that putting her down would be necessary instead of watching her slowly suffer and die as our beloved Ziggy and two other Grey breeders had.

Dr. Bob amazed us with the news that he thought he might be able to treat her. He explained he had been researching a common human drug and thought one of its side effects might help repair the neurological damage that PDD causes. He also said we knew the result without treatment, and it would either help or she would die anyway.

Side by side x-ray films of Chile. The left, 07-01-2003, and the right 03-30-2000. Note the addition of the microchip used to track and verify her progress in the left film.

For us, it was a no-brainer, as they say.

The drug, Celebrex is safe, and any minor side effects she might experience would be better than the alternative. We started treatment immediately. This treatment consisted of the Celebrex diluted to a manageable dose determined by her current weight, and a diet of crushed Zupreem pellets and applesauce spooned on top of the pellet dust.

The Celebrex was added to the applesauce to mask its flavor and to help move the souring seed that remained in her lower G.I. tract out of her system. The pellets were crushed to aid her in absorbing nutrition from them and quicken her recovery.

Dr. Bob Dahlhausen and his vet tech Cathy Barnes performing the biopsy.

In a few short weeks, she finished her medication, started putting the weight she had lost back on, and became more bright-eyed and talkative than I had seen her in the short time I had known her. By Christmas of that year she was outwardly normal. Another x-ray was shot in 2001 and showed her proventriculas to be much smaller than it was in June of the previous year, but still slightly enlarged. (In the film below, the large white mass that you might think is an egg, is in reality her proventriculas, or gizzard in laymens terms) Another film was taken July 1, 2002 and it has shrunk to its normal size. (the left most image of the two above.)

As I write this Chile is with a mate, another B&G that was in the quarentine room with her at the time. They both remain there as we do not have a test yet to confirm that she is not still infected. They reside in a nice large cage with a nest box.

To date, she had laid 7 eggs, but still has not discovered that they must be laid IN the nest box, not from her perch. No matter, we still have her and love her.

As far as I am concerned, she is cured. I know that we must be carfull everyday to not endanger our other birds, but to anyone who sees her, she has outwardly recovered.

In June she will be three years out from her treatment. We look forward to helping Dr. Bob find a test and confirm his cure.

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