Common Bird Diseases

Psittacosis: This disease goes by many names: Parrot Fever, Psittacosis, Ornithosis, and Chlamydophilosis. For Psittacine birds as pets, this is perhaps the most important disease, as it is contagious to humans. The organism Chlamydophila psittaci lives hides inside living cells of the birds' body, making the bird a carrier of the disease. The organisms can be shed in the feces or oral/nasal secretions, especially if the bird undergoes some form of immune stress. Once the organisms are shed they become airborne, thereby creating a risk to other birds or humans. The problem with this disease is that in the acute form, birds can die in less than 24 hours, while in the chronic form they may "appear" perfectly healthy yet die slowly over many years from chronic cellular damage. This test is VERY important to insure the bird's total health because if the bird is positive it can be 100% effectively treated and then no longer pose a threat to the owner, the household, or any human or bird that comes in contact with the pet bird. Guarding against this disease is the responsibility of all bird owners and their veterinarians as it is a State of Michigan reportable disease.

Polyoma Viral Disease (PVD): This disease can be transmitted from bird to bird as well as through the air. Accurate blood testing is available. Positive young birds, especially before weaning, are at greatest risk of dying. Older birds often become lifelong carriers or can suddenly die. In 1996 a monumental breakthrough occurred with the release of a vaccine to protect against this terrible viral disease. Cedar Creek Veterinary Clinic recommends that any bird showing clinical signs of this disease be tested for PVD.

Psittacine Beak and Feather Disease (PBFD): This is one of the two most devastating airborne viral diseases of the pet bird industry. There is no cure. The blood test for PBFD is very accurate from properly prepared samples. Positive young birds have a poorer prognosis than older birds if clinical signs are observed and will often die. Presently there is no licensed vaccine in the United States. Cedar Creek Veterinary Clinic recommends that any bird showing clinical signs as well as certain species of birds known to be carriers should be tested for PBFD.

Psittacid Herpesvirus (PsHv): Pacheco’s disease virus, a potentially deadly disease, is now known as the Psittacid Herpesvirus. It causes both Pacheco’s disease as well as mucosal papillomas and is linked to cancer of the liver and pancreas. In 2003-2004 this research all came to light and a swab/blood test was developed to find birds infected with this virus to help prevent further spreading. When having birds of different species in your home or in a boarding situation, finding carriers ahead of time can prevent the death of another bird.

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