Gastrointestinal Disease Associated with Non-albicans Candida Species in Birds
American Association of Zoo Veterinarians Conference 2017
Kyle Donnelly1,2, DVM, MPH; James F.X. Wellehan, Jr.1, DVM, MS, PhD, DACZM, DACVM (Virology, Bacteriology/Mycology), DECZM (Herpetology); Katherine Quesenberry2, DVM, MPH, DABVP (Avian Practice)
1Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Florida, Gainesville FL, USA; 2Avian and Exotic Pet Service, The Animal Medical Center, New York, NY, USA


Candida albicans is the most commonly described yeast of clinical interest; however, non-albicans Candida infections are an emerging issue in human health care. These species are markedly more resistant to antifungals.2,4 Six cases of non-albicans Candida species were identified in six birds with gastrointestinal signs. The gastrointestinal signs included diarrhea, regurgitation, and weight loss, and were often concurrent or identified secondary to other systemic signs including dermatitis, weakness, and torticollis. Candida glabrata was identified in an Amazon parrot (Amazona sp.), a ringneck dove (Streptopelia risoria), a blue and gold macaw (Ara ararauna), and two cockatiels (Nymphicus hollandicus). Candida krusei was identified in a white-crowned pionus parrot (Pionus senilis). Three cases resolved after treatment, and two birds died. Fungal culture and MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry identification was correlated with fecal and/or crop cytology, and DNA sequencing was used in one case. Most cases had a history of prior antibiotic exposure. Recent human data describes a shift in species distribution away from C. albicans dominance and toward other species, including C. glabrata and C. krusei.2 Both species are a normal component of human and bird mycobiota, which may emerge to cause disease, especially with disruption of normal gut ecology due to prior antibiotic use.1,3


The authors would like to thank the Avian and Exotic team at the Animal Medical Center and the Zoological Medicine team at the University of Florida for their assistance in the care of these birds.

Literature Cited

1.  Gouba N, Drancourt M. Digestive tract mycobiota: a source of infection. Méd Mal Infect. 2015;45:9–16.

2.  Kullberg BJ, Arendrup MC. Invasive candidiasis. N Engl J Med. 2015;373:1445–1456.

3.  Lord A, Mohanda K, Somanath S, Ambu S. Multidrug resistant yeasts in synanthropic wild birds. Ann Clin Microbiol Antimicrob. 2010;9:11.

4.  Turner SA, Butler G. The Candida pathogenic species complex. Cold Spring Harb Perspect Med. 2014;4:a019778–a019778.


Speaker Information
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Kyle Donnelly, DVM, MPH
Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences
College of Veterinary Medicine
University of Florida
Gainesville, FL, USA

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