I have a friend whose parrot contracted PDD while boarding the bird during a family vacation. And, I have a customer who just got a new baby African Grey who is experiencing symptoms of PDD. Watching a beloved pet die of PDD is sadder than sad. But, just last year, researchers discovered a virus that may just be the culprit. The nasty Bornavirus. This virus is in the same family as the one that causes encephalitis in horses and other farm livestock.
It will be a while before a reliable PDD in Parrots diagnostic test can be developed or before a prevention plan can be developed, but the discovery of Bornavirus is a real breakthrough. For both captive pet parrots and endangered parrots!
The University of California, San Francisco postdoctoral fellow spearheaded the research. Using brand new research, Amy Sistler and colleagues were able to isolate virus samples in 71% of birds tp determine that this strain of Bornavirus was dramatically different from previously identified members of the Bonavirade family.
Current PDD Knowledge:
PDD used to be limited to Macaw’s, it was thought, but now, there are at least 50 parrot species that have experienced this deadly disease. It may even be spreading to softbills such as Canadian Geese and Toucans. Wow! Without going into gory details, birds infected with PDD can not digest food and /or absorb nutrients. So, what ends up happening is that they pass undigested food rather than absorb nutrients and slowly waste away.
What do You Look For in PDD in Parrots?
- Weight Loss
- Depression / Lethargy /Weakness
- Regurgitation or passing of undigested seeds / food
- Diarrhea or scant feces or polyuria (abnormal poop)
- Motor skills deficits such as ataxia, weird head movements, seizures
Please see an Avian Veterinary Specialist shoud you see these symptoms and quickly quarantine your parrot so the rest of your flock does not become infected! An avian specialist will know what tests to run. Keep in mind that a definitive diagnosis as of Fall 2009 is only available through a crop biopsy or via post mortem evaluation.
What can you do?
- Buy from reputible breeders that allow you to view their breeding faciltity
- Always use safe quarantine practices.
- If you visit a bird fair or other public exhibit where there are other birds, remove exposed clothing and bath well with antibacterial soap prior to visiting your parrots.
- Never, ever take your parrot to bird shows.