Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Bumblefoot Infection

Foot Infection Treatment

Bacterial infection of the foot pad can not only damage a foot but can also lead to the bird's death. A few years ago my friend Donna Zuendel had about 30 canaries with infected foot pads called "bumblefoot". This was odd because Donna kept her aviary very clean, usually changing papers three times a day. When her birds started dying daily, she was so upset and depressed that I volunteered to take the sick ones and try to cure them.

So we brought the sick birds to my house and put them in an isolated separate room far away from my birds. I took care of my birds first in the morning, washed my hands constantly and even changed my shoes to make sure my birds were in no danger of catching this life threatening disease.

Then I took samples to my friends at the best hospital microbiology lab in town and had the bacteria identified and an antibiotic sensitivity test run to tell me what antibiotics were capable of killing the organism. The infection was due to a gram negative bacteria, Klebsiella and not the usual gram positive cause Staphylococcus. With information in hand, I met with my vet and got the recommended antibiotic solution that I would gavage into the crop every so many hours around the clock. With such a demanding schedule, I took a vacation from both of my jobs and began religiously carrying out the treatment.

Each day, I called Donna and gave her a progress report which unfortunately had become a mortality report. Not only Donna was depressed, I had caught it! After a week and continued daily deaths, I knew that even doing it the way it should be done, it was not going to work, and the only way that the problem was going to stop was when the last bird died... Giving the antibiotic orally just did not get enough of it where the infection was, even if I used an ointment too, it still did not work....

Feeling about as down as I have ever in my life felt, I sat down to think about a different treatment that would at least save some of Donna's birds. Reflecting on my childhood, I remembered that my mom had a home remedy, black salve, that she always treated me with that at least seemed to work on most of my childhood injuries. She rubbed black salve into the problem areas and whether it worked or it was a placebo effect, I always got well. I remembered this black salve contained iodine.

Being desperate, I got out my bottle of vanodine (strong iodine) and dipped the sick birds feet in it. The following day there were no deaths and all the remaining birds feet healed!

Just like other discoveries I have made during my lifetime, I went from being totally down to euphorically elated when the problem was conquered! I promptly wrote up a case study of my experience and with a veterinarian as second author, it was published in a veterinarian scientific journal.

Critical Concept: Prevent and treat Foot infections by dipping the bleeding or infected feet in an iodine solution such as vanodine or betadine daily as needed.


Anonymous said...

oh I'm so glad I read your comments!!!! I've got a young canary with bumblefoot and my heart breaks every time I have to catch it and put salve on! and it's not really helping, I've even now started putting Tea Tree oil on. I'm immediately now going to use iodine!!! Thank you so much! Marianne, Tzaneen, South Africa

Marianne FOurie said...

Another thing, another of my young canaries developed a wart-like growth on the skin just above its eye. Im treating it with topical ointment but it's not getting better. Does not seem like canary pox at least, all the other canaries are healthy. What can I do!!!??? My vet doesn't know, this is a small town and the vets don't have lots of experience on canaries. Regards, Marianne, Tzaneen South Africa

Kathy Shea Mormino, The Chicken Chick said...

Hi Linda. I was wondering whether it would be possible to get a copy of or a link to the journal article you published with the vet? I'm fascinated.

You are welcome to reply to me at

Thanks so much!
Kathy Mormino

Anonymous said...

My canary (male) has got bumble foot recently (or so I think). It started as a small swollen area on the toe and just got bigger. It's still just on one toe. And now every day I put iodine, and a bit of fucidine cream, I hate having to catch them cause it pisses them off. There doesn't seem to be any progress. I keep a closer eye on their toes now and it seems as if the female in another cage is getting it also. I dont know how it was transmitted.but i also give her the same treatment before it gets larger. Canaries are soo cute.

Sahala, Uli's Kenari, Indonesia said...

Hi Linda,

Many thanks on your article of Bumblefoot infection.
Will try it on my Indonesian Canary.
I have several canary, and some of them have shown this so you called "Bumblefoot Infection".

hope the will get back in normal condition.


Laura W said...

I just purchased a bottle of Vandine and plan to use it on a canary hen that was given to me. She has bumblefoot. Her trouble area is only red and puffy/swollen, no skin breaks. I feel it is the middle stage of the disease. Im not sure it will penetrate the skin itself, but it's worth a try. Thanks for the info!
Laura W