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What Is PBFD (Psittacine Beak and Feather Disease)?

Learn about PBFD (psittacine beak and feather disease) from veterinarian Laurie Hess in this Howcast video.


Dr. Laurie: So we're asked what is PBFD. PBFD stands for psittacine, which is another word for parrot, beak, and feather disease. It's a very, very serious condition that fortunately we don't see as often now as we used to years ago, but it is caused by a virus that is very contagious from bird to bird. It generally kills birds. It's an immunosuppressive. It suppresses the immune system virus that is spread from bird to bird via aerosols, also secretions in the air, feather dust, dried stool. It's very contagious and unfortunately, it's very difficult to get rid of. What are some of the signs it causes, Sarah?

Sarah: Signs that it causes in birds that survive it as youngsters oftentimes, they'll have disheveled feathers. They'll be discolored. Their beak will be malformed, and oftentimes they'll be, I guess what people would call a poor doer. They won't be as bright and alert. They won't eat as well. They won't gain weight as well, and eventually a lot of them do, unfortunately wither away and die.

Dr. Laurie: Yeah, and we see lots of feather picking birds who are sort of naked from the neck down. They have normal head feathers, but they're naked because they've pulled out all their feathers. Those are not to be confused with the beak and feather birds who often have no feathers on their head. They'll lose all their feathers. They'll just fall out. So if you see a bird who's really, truly naked, even on top of their head, you have to be a little suspicious.

The good news is that there are reliable DNA tests for this disease and it's very serious. So if you have a beak and feather disease positive bird, you really do not want to bring other birds around it, and if you're ever going to bring in another bird to your home, you really need to get rid of anything that has been in contact with an infected bird, because it does persist in the environment and it is very contagious.

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