I have had another confirmed outbreak of the Trichomonas parasite in garden birds. I carry out a stringent hygiene regime, but one area I would like to check is the gravel paths in my garden.
First a couple of points about Trichomonas:
- Trichomonas doesn't produce cysts
- it is very sensitive to drying,
- direct contamination is necessary and infection is through usually contaminated water or possibly food but only if its freshly contaminated and 'moist' - so this shouldn't be a big route for wild birds.
The wild bird infections are mainly via contaminated water bowls and possibly longer lasting 'puddles''.
Sadly pigeons, including doves are likely to be a source but certainly not the only source, Trichomonas generally isn't very host specific.
Part of the answer to at least preventing spread is to provide clean fresh water to avoid them having to drink from a source that is contaminated.
The path probably isn't part of the problem, Ark-Klens is still the best cleanser disinfectant for the bird table etc. Ark-Klens will kill Trichomonas. If you are concerned about other organisms such as bacteria and viruses I would suggest either Tamodine E (which may stain the gravel so test it first), or Virkon Aquatic (the Aquatic form has no colourant or scent, so nothing to put off wild birds).
Vetark have recently launched CitroSan which is an extract of oranges ie. a natural product with biocidal properties to prevent the transmission of Trichomonas in the bird bath.
At the recent UFAW symposium on feeding wild birds a group from Canada reported identifying Trichomonas from feed removed from a feeder where there had an outbreak of Trichomoniasis. The likelihood is that food just inside the feeding holes of a tube feeder may become damp or soggy due to rain getting in, and Trichomonas could live in this moist environment. On this basis it would be sensible to not overfill feeders so that they can be regularly taken down and cleaned and dried, also choosing tube feeders which are easy to strip and clean, have good rain covers etc. Choosing a protected area in which to hang them would also be useful.