Last Updated on: 1st October 2023, 08:05 am
Egg yolk peritonitis (EYP) is the inflammation of the peritoneum, a membrane covering the internal organs. The function of the peritoneum is to offer a smooth surface for blood and fluids to move through.
EYP occurs when a parrot releases a yolk from the ovary, which becomes trapped in the coelomic cavity in the abdomen. That’s why egg yolk peritonitis is sometimes called “internal laying.”
When this happens, fluid accumulates in the parrot’s abdomen and seeps into the bloodstream. This can lead to toxicity, sometimes causing long-term liver damage.
Egg yolk peritonitis may be septic, in which case the yolk has been contaminated by bacteria (most commonly E. coli, according to the Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine), or non-septic, in which case the yolk is devoid of bacteria but the peritoneum remains inflamed.
The symptoms of egg yolk peritonitis are sometimes confused with dystocia (egg binding).
If you seek veterinary assistance at the early onset of egg yolk peritonitis, the prognosis for the parrot is good. However, ignoring the symptoms can be life-threatening.
How Common is Egg Yolk Peritonitis in Parrots?
Egg yolk peritonitis is associated with poultry and ducks but can arise in all parrot species. Lovebirds, macaws, and cockatiels are the likeliest species to get EYP.
As egg yolk peritonitis impacts the oviduct, only females can develop this condition. The parrot must also be capable of becoming gravid to get EYP, so birds younger than a year old are unlikely to be affected.
What Causes Egg Yolk Peritonitis?
If EYP only arises once in a parrot’s lifetime, it’s likely been unfortunate. There can also be underlying causes of egg yolk peritonitis, which include:
- Genetic illnesses passed on from parents make it impossible to lay eggs.
- Injury to the oviduct caused by rupturing, potentially caused by egg binding.
- Significant stress or physical damage during the ovulation period.
- Irritation to the stomach lining leads to reverse peristalsis.
- Excessive white blood cells.
If a parrot develops egg yolk peritonitis, discuss how to avoid the underlying cause with a vet.
Is Egg Yolk Peritonitis Painful?
Egg yolk peritonitis is painful for parrots, which will be reflected in their demeanor and behavior.
The yolk will exert pressure on internal organs, and the inflammation associated with the condition will also cause discomfort. A parrot may be more aggressive and must be encouraged to eat and drink.
Is Egg Yolk Peritonitis Dangerous?
Egg yolk peritonitis can be fatal if left untreated. If EYP combines with another problem, like egg binding, the issue can cost a parrot its life within 24-48 hours.
Egg Yolk Peritonitis Signs and Symptoms
Having established that egg yolk peritonitis is painful, bird owners must understand and recognize the warning signs. The symptoms are many and varied, including the following:
- Fluffing of the feathers.
- Constantly lifting the tail feathers.
- Change to the parrot’s stance and gait, usually involving the legs widening.
- Sitting on the floor of the cage.
- Dullness in the eyes, which may swell and close.
- Discharge from the eyes and nares (nostrils.)
- Changes to the droppings, which may appear white or yellow.
- Respiratory difficulty, including labored breathing.
- Swelling around the abdomen and vent caused by fluid accumulation.
- Sudden weight loss.
- Refusing to eat or drink.
- Lethargy and depression, including reluctance to exercise or interact and reduced verbalization.
- Muscular weakness, potentially leading to tremors.
Always be vigilant about reacting to a change of behavior or demeanor.
Egg Bound vs. Egg Peritonitis
As egg yolk peritonitis can look similar to dystocia, it’s vital to understand the difference. While both can be fatal to parrots if not treated quickly, the treatment plans vary.
The difference is that dystocia involves the formation of a solid egg, including a shell, within the body that the bird can’t pass.
Egg yolk peritonitis is exclusively a problem with fluid. This means that swelling may not be as visible by sight, especially in the early days of the issue.
Egg yolk peritonitis and egg binding can arise simultaneously, so X-rays are essential.
How To Treat Egg Yolk Peritonitis
Treatment depends on how advanced the condition is and whether the problem is septic. Non-septic EYP is easier to treat than an equivalent concern, like a bacterial infection.
X-rays will determine the extent of the issue. If possible, a vet will perform abdominocentesis – extracting the yolk fluid from the parrot’s body using a needle. A diuretic like Frusemide may also be applied.
Then, the parrot will have fluid therapy to flush out the remaining yolk within the body. Intravenous antibiotics may be administered to prevent secondary infection.
This will likely involve the parrot remaining in surgery overnight, regularly hydrating through intravenous fluids, and being tube-fed. Medications include Oxytetracycline, Baytril, Gentamycin, and Gentamycin.
Surgical intervention may be required if abdominocentesis is ineffective or the yolk has spread to excess.
How Long Does it Take a Parrot to Recover from Egg Yolk Peritonitis?
Parrots with non-septic egg yolk peritonitis usually recover faster than birds with bacterial infections. The bird will likely be treated and discharged the same day as an inpatient.
Upon discharge, a vet may recommend the parrot attend follow-up appointments. This will involve bloodwork to ensure that hormone and blood levels are normal and the risk of reinfection remains low.
If a parrot is given antibiotics upon discharge from surgery, you must complete the course. It must also enjoy a calm and sedate lifestyle, regularly hydrate, and be fed a high-protein diet.
How To Prevent Egg Yolk Peritonitis
Essential steps include controlling a parrot’s weight and providing a nutritious diet.
A parrot can’t develop EYP if she doesn’t become gravid, so it reduces the chances of egg-laying. Unfortunately, keeping a female away from a male isn’t a guaranteed solution.
Parrots can lay eggs without a breeding partner during mating season. Keep the parrot’s hormones controlled during spring and summer by limiting exposure to daylight and warm conditions.
Sometimes, vets issue hormone injections like Leuprorelin. According to Expert Opinion on Investigational Drugs, Leuprolide acetate has multiple uses, including suppressing egg-laying.
Hormone therapy is only temporary. A salpingectomy (surgical removal of a parrot’s ovaries) may be recommended if there’s reason to believe a parrot will continue to lay eggs.