Dear Mr. Thompson:
The article titled "Iron Storage,"
which appeared in your Aug/Sept
issue, was of considerable interest to
me. The authors state that, "It is not
known whether this iron storage disease
is a result of a heritable condition
of abnormal iron deposition which
occurs regardless of iron level in the
diet or is a response to chronic ingestion
of excessive iron in the diet." In
the well-studied iron overload disease
in humans (hemochromatosis), it is
the currently accepted belief that the
inability to excrete iron is a genetic
defect. Changing the diet has little
impact on the course of the disease.
However, in many cases, the disease
has been made considerably worse by
the attending physician failing to diagnose
the disease and further compounding
it by prescribing iron tablets.
Humans who do not suffer from
genetic hemochromatosis apparently
have a great tolerance for the excessive
zeal of the iron wielding physician.
If they did not, there would be
many more people with iron overload
This disease is easy to diagnose by
simply running a serum ferritin level.
In humans, it is not uncommon to
have extremely high levels of ferritin
by the time the patient is showing
symptoms; i.e., lameness, liver disease,
heart disease, neuropathy, etc.
Establishing normal levels in the concerned
avian species should not be at
all difficult and may even be available.
It would seem to me that your
authors should eliminate the birds suffering
from the genetic iron overload
disease from their study. This would
be easy to do. They will probably find,
as was discovered in humans, that
most of the birds suffering from iron
overload do, indeed, have the genetic
condition. Of course, iron poisoning
could occur by ingestion of large
amounts of iron or by excessive iron
therapy, but that is not too likely. The
only really effective treatment is, of
course, phlebotomy on a regular
basis. This works quite well and the
frequency can be reduced over time
depending on the serum ferritin
M.L. Simmons, D.V.M., President
Veterinary Resources America, Inc.
Parrot Conservation Group
P.O. Box 2200, Vero Beach, FL 32961
Phone (407) 562-9745
I would like to thank Jack ClintonEitniear
and the Board of Directors for
being presented a Service Award for
my efforts in Hurricane Andrew relief.
However, I do not feel right being
singled out for this award. I feel I was
just the muscle (and not always the
brains) of a group of aviculturists who
were able to react immediately to the
devastation in South Dade County.
Although donations from central
Florida businesses, veterinarians and
bird clubs were received, a large
financial donation from Town and
Country Feathered Friends of Michigan
bank-rolled the first relief trip. A
total of 13 trips were made by Dwight
Greenberg and/or myself, including
four trips before the "official" AFA and
SOFAR relief efforts were felt in the
We could not have done this without
the help of many individuals who
acted as our "procurement and support
committee." Debbie Clifton, Beth
Greenberg, Starr Kirchhoff, Diana
Skalsky, Bob Smith and Pamela Willis
helped our effort immensely, keeping
the donations coming and taking care
of any special orders that we received.
Sally Zonner, at Avian Specialties, and
Renn Danzer, at Sunshine Bird Supply,
made sure no vehicle went into
the disaster area unless it was loaded
completely with supplies.
Our effort was helped by a local
"hospitality committee." Kathleen
Harring and Rick Jordan at Luv Them
Birds, though disaster victims themselves,
supplied lodging, excellent
food, security and strong drink to anybody
coming into the area to help.
Again, I appreciate receiving this
award, but I must accept it on behalf
of the many people (named and unnamed)
who made this effort so