Neil Forbes Avian Vet at Northdowns BS – Tony Cash UK

Neil Forbes Avian Vet at

Northdowns BS

Report by Tony Cash

Vice-Chairman Graham Cornwall with Neil Forbes and his Wife

Neil started by explaining that he had 25 years experience as a pioneer of avian medicine, as well as working with a wide range of exotic animals, and had written and published various books and articles on avian medicine.  He had also given lectures to international conferences on this subject in many parts of the world and was currently the President of the European College of Zoological Medicine.

Neil has received the following awards: MSD AgVet Trophy and Award, Centenary Award, Mackellar Award, BSAVA Melton Award, BVA William Hunting Award and Lafeber Avian Practitioner Award and the Gerlach Senior Award.  His company is called: “Great Western Exotic Vets”.

He went on to explain many of his exploits over the years at home and abroad.

Infectious Conditions

A patient may have an infectious condition, without it being a disease. Such a condition only becomes a ‘disease’ if the patient suffers as a consequence of the infection and this is not always the case. The fact that a patient has an infection does not mean it is contagious, i.e. it is only contagious, if the patient has the ability to pass on the infectious agent.

Any avian patient should be considered infectious until proven otherwise. There are simply too many serious infectious diseases, which may be clinical or sub-clinical, for any case to be automatically considered safe, until proven to be so. We can consider diseases such as Avian influenza, Chlamydopila, Psittacine Beak and Feather Disease and the Herpes virus, all of which can be present in an avian patient, without any overt signs and yet still present serious risks of ‘infection’ to other birds, either by direct contact, fomite spread or, most serious of all, by air spread.

Why does it matter if it is infectious?

Not only is it essential to determine if it is infectious and, if so, what the pathogen is, in order to ensure the patient gets the very best treatment as soon as possible, but perhaps even more important is the need to protect other patients and the bio-security status of your facilities against contamination.

How do we recognise if a bird is suffering from an infectious condition?

All clinicians are familiar with the signs of a ‘sick bird’, fluffed up, loss of condition or weight, change of appetite and water consumption, change of normal position, perching place or stance, change in level of activity, standing on two legs rather than one, possibly even hanging onto the bars of the cage with his beak, loss or change of voice, respiratory stridor, tail bobbing, faecal changes, abnormal discharges (mouth eyes, nares, ears, preen gland, cloaca), lying down more, CNS signs, etc..

However, the presence of ‘sick bird’ clinical signs does not imply the bird is suffering from an infectious disease.

Genetic Issues

Feather dusters and straw feather are two genetic abnormalities affecting budgerigars. The names are descriptive of the visual appearance of affected birds. Feather cysts are common in certain breed lines of canaries and budgies.

A genetic susceptibility is postulated. Many other psittacines suffer feather cysts.

Facts from the Q&A Session

  • It is very important to vary the size of your perches to avoid scaring /sores on the feet of your birds.
  • The FM virus will stay in your bird room/shed /loft whatever you like to call it for up to 2 years! (2 types of FM). The only way to completely get rid of the virus is to cull all affected birds and their family.
  • F10 is the best treatment for most things and is not harmful in anyway.
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Terry Tuxford About the Author:

Terry Tuxford first began breeding budgerigars in 1979 and joined the BS in 1980. He was elevated to Champion in 1985 when he went into partnership with Brian Poole. This partnership is probably one of the longest existing partnerships in the UK hobby today having lasted some 27 years so far and is still going strong. Terry and Brian are also partnered by Yvonne Tuxford who joined the BS in 1990.


Terry demonstrated his penmanship early in his budgerigar career and wrote in the second edition of Budgerigar World. Little did he realise then that in just over 8 year’s time he would become editor following a 20 month apprenticeship with founding editor, Gerald Binks. Terry went on to edit a total of 245 editions up to May 2011.


In 1993 Terry took his Budgerigar Society Judges final examination and was awarded Subsidiary Judge of the Year and has gone on to judge the Budgerigar Society World Show on three occasions as well as many top shows at home and abroad. He is also an accomplished speaker and has been a guest at societies throughout the UK as well as Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada and many other European countries.

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