A Case Study of Cryptosporidium–like Disease in American Cliff Swallows (Petrochelidon pyrrhonota)


  • Trish Jackman Project Wildlife
  • Jane E. Meier DVM Project Wildlife




Cliff swallow, cryptosporidiosis, protozoa, mycoplasmosis, conjunctivitis


Twenty–six American cliff swallows became ill with respiratory signs that included eyelid edema and erythema, ocular and nasal discharge, dyspnea, and visual impairment. The birds displayed a depressed fluffed appearance, dehydration, and anorexia. Over a three–month period, 21 of the 26 birds died. The disease mimicked a Mycoplasma spp. infection. Treatment with topical ophthalmic antibiotic and tylosin tartrate produced a temporary improvement of clinical signs, but did not have a lasting effect. Necropsy findings indicated a Cryptosporidium–like disease. This protozoa is pathogenic in both mammals and birds, but is more commonly found in mammals, where it targets the gastrointestinal system. In birds however, it appears to cause respiratory involvement almost exclusively. The remaining five birds were quarantined and treated with paromomycin sulfate, but treatment proved unsuccessful and these birds also died. Mortality was 100 percent in this outbreak.


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Author Biographies

Trish Jackman, Project Wildlife

Trish Jackman has worked professionally in the wildlife field for 18 years. In California, she worked as a senior keeper for the Zoological Society of San Diego and The Living Desert. Currently she is the Wildlife Rehabilitation Manager for Project Wildlife in San Diego.

Jane E. Meier DVM, Project Wildlife

Jane Meier worked as an associate veterinarian for the Zoological Society of San Diego for 13 years and has been the supervising veterinarian for Project Wildlife over 20 years.


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How to Cite

Jackman, T., & Meier, J. (2013). A Case Study of Cryptosporidium–like Disease in American Cliff Swallows (Petrochelidon pyrrhonota). Wildlife Rehabilitation Bulletin, 31(1), 31–35. https://doi.org/10.53607/wrb.v31.54