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1 September 2004 Cytologic, Histologic, and Microbiologic Characterization of the Feather Pulp and Follicles of Feather-picking Psittacine Birds: A Preliminary Study
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Abstract

This prospective, blinded study was undertaken to determine if inflammatory changes of the skin, feather pulp, and feather follicles are present in feather-picking birds. Eight feather-picking or feather-mutilating psittacine birds and 4 non–feather-picking (control) psittacine birds were evaluated. From affected birds, we plucked 2 feathers each from a picked and a nonpicked area. Feather pulp was expressed for cytologic examination from 1 feather each from an affected and a nonaffected area and pulp from the other 2 feathers was expressed for bacterial and fungal cultures. In addition, a feather follicle from each site was excised for histologic examination. From control birds, we plucked 2 feathers from the same regions as from affected birds and performed the same examinations on feathers and follicles as for affected birds. Cytologic examination of feather pulp from both feather-picked and control birds revealed no bacterial or fungal organisms. Histologic examination revealed no inflammatory cells in samples from either feather-picked or control birds except for 1 sample from a nonpicked area of a feather-picking bird. Only 1 pulp sample from an affected bird and 1 sample from a control bird grew bacteria. These results suggest that dermatitis and folliculitis should be considered unlikely causes for feather picking or mutilation unless confirmed by cytology, biopsy, and feather pulp culture.

Karen L. Rosenthal, Daniel O. Morris, Elizabeth A. Mauldin, Evelyn S. Ivey, and Heather Peikes "Cytologic, Histologic, and Microbiologic Characterization of the Feather Pulp and Follicles of Feather-picking Psittacine Birds: A Preliminary Study," Journal of Avian Medicine and Surgery 18(3), 137-143, (1 September 2004). https://doi.org/10.1647/2003-001
Published: 1 September 2004
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