Bumblefoot (ulcerative pododermatitis) is a bacterial infection and inflammatory reaction on the feet of birds and rodents. This infection is much more likely to occur in captive animals than in those in the wild. It is caused by Staphylococcus bacteria.
Bumblefoot on birds of prey
In the first type, a small reddened area, or sometimes a small shiny patch, can be seen on the foot. This is mostly caused by inappropriate perching (or perching for too long), or, less likely, by badly fitted furniture, such as jesses that are too small. To treat this type, one must change the fault in the husbandry, fly the bird regularly, and apply hemorrhoid cream to the affected area.
The second type is more serious, where some penetration has occurred. While treatment for the first type will help, it is likely that the bird will require antibiotics as well.
The third type involves the bird having severe distortion of the contours of the foot and/or the toes, resulting from the bumblefoot causing considerable damage in the foot.
Bumblefoot in poultry and waterfowl
Bumblefoot is a common infection for domesticated poultry and waterfowl such as chickens and ducks. Due to constant walking on hard, rough, or sharp surfaces, birds can develop small wounds on the bottom of their feet. These wounds are very susceptible to infection by the opportunistic pathogen Staphylococcus aureus. Treatment often requires opening the wound to drain the pus, soaking it in epsom salts, and antibiotic treatment and local application of the antiseptic pyodine as local dressing.
Bumblefoot in penguins
In 2016, Dr. Ann Duncan and colleagues at the Detroit Zoo published a paper1 on bumblefoot in three species of penguins. They evaluated the possible use of thermography to identify and evaluate bumblefoot lesions in 67 captive penguins.
Bumblefoot is so named because of the characteristic "bumbles" or lesions as well as swelling of the foot pad symptomatic of an infection. Topical antiseptics such as Blu-Kote and Nu-Stock in addition to oral or injected antibiotics may be used to combat the infection, which if left untreated may be fatal.
1. AN EVALUATION OF INFRARED THERMOGRAPHY FOR DETECTION OF BUMBLEFOOT (PODODERMATITIS) IN PENGUINS Ann E. Duncan, Lauri L. Torgerson-White, Stephanie M. Allard, and Tom Schneider Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine 2016 47 (2), 474-485
- McArthur, Jan (July–August 1998). "Ulcerative Pododermatitis...". rmca.org. Retrieved 29 July 2006.
- Ford, Emma. Falconry; Art and Practice. Cassell & Co 1992. Page 39/40.