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Avian Medicine – Closing in on a Treatment for Proventricular Dilation Disease

Patagonian ConuresA cure for Proventricular Dilation Disease (PDD), the bane of parrot-owners, has eluded veterinarians for over 30 years.  In 2008, Avian Bornavirus (ABV) was indentified as a probable cause of the fatal neurological disorder.  When I wrote about that discovery (please see article below), I hoped that more good news would follow…today I’m happy to file this promising update. Read More »

Breaking Research News – Virus that causes deadly parrot disease (Proventricular Dilation Disease) identified

August 1, 2008 – researchers working at the University of California (San Francisco) released the heartening news that they had identified the virus that causes Proventricular Dilation Disease (PDD), which has, since its emergence in the 1970’s, remained untreatable.  PDD has caused the deaths of wild and captive parrots of over 50 species, as well as birds in 5 other avian orders.  Aviculturists and conservationists consider it a major threat, especially to critically endangered species such as the Spix Macaw (of which less than 100 remain).

The virus, named Avian Bornavirus, is related to those that cause encephalitis in livestock, and attacks the nervous system.  Infected birds are unable to swallow, digest food or maintain their balance, and eventually die.

Spix MacawA test that enables technicians to positively identify the virus has also been developed.  Birds afflicted with PDD are often misdiagnosed, due the overlap of the symptoms with a number of other diseases.  It is believed that the test will assist in monitoring and limiting the spread of PDD, an extremely important step given that a cure still eludes us.


A veterinary journal article detailing a PDD outbreak in a parrot breeding center in Israel is posted at:

Image referenced from Wikipedia Commons: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Spixara.jpg

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