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Beak and feather disease in birds

www.PetMD.com, the largest global source of pet health information, is created by veterinary professionals and covers 9 different species.

recognizing the signs

Psittacine beak and feather disease (PBFD) is a viral disease which affects not only parrots, but other birds too. Despite its name, it does not affect the beak. It is a deadly disease, which is difficult to cure and is recognized by the abnormal feathers on birds.

Balding Parrot

Psittacine Beak And Feather Disease

Psittacine beak and feather disease (PBFD) is a viral disease which affects not only parrots, but other birds too. Despite its name, it does not affect the beak. It is a deadly disease, which is difficult to cure and is recognized by the abnormal feathers on birds.

The viral infection can be seen in cockatoos, African grey parrots, Eclectus parrots, lorikeets, lovebirds, and parrot species of Asian, Australian and African origin. Generally, PBFD affects young birds, seldom seen in birds older than three years of age. 

Symptom and Types

PBFD can be easily recognized by its primary symptoms in the infected birds. There will be general feather loss, which cannot be attributed to bird's self plucking; other symptoms include:

  • Sharp feathers
  • Clubbed feathers
  • Abnormally short feathers (pin feathers)
  • Loss of pigment in colored feathers
  • Loss of powder down
  • Bloody shafts in the feathers 

As the infection progresses, the bird will become depressed for days, and will then die suddenly. 

Causes

Psittacine beak and feather disease is caused by the Circovirus. It is spread from infected birds to healthy birds by direct contact, usually from the dust of feathers, dander or feces; the disease is sometimes transmitted from contact with an infected nest box. Infected birds can also pass on the virus to their young.

Since the virus can survive outside the bird's body for years and cannot be killed by disinfectants, it can be spread easily and is difficult to control.

Treatment

Any bird infected with PBFD should be immediately quarantined. Euthanasia is recommended to prevent the spread and stop the bird's suffering, as there is no effective treatment for this viral infection.

Prevention

To prevent PBFD, strict hygiene should be followed in bird colonies, especially controlling the dust. Also, regularly screen for PBFD. Consequently, if any bird is found infected, quarantine the bird and burn its nest box to prevent the disease from spreading.

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