PDD Updates!

PDD Updates!

 February 2nd, 2010
Posted By:

Camelot Macaw

I wrote an article a while back on the devastating parrot disease PDD (Proventricular Dilation Disease).  Since that time there have been great strides made in the testing process for this disease and some new discoveries about PDD in the environment.  This is great news for parrots owners, since testing for the disease in the past has been very invasive, dangerous, and costly.  More recently, researchers developed a test that didn’t require a biopsy of the crop, but these test result were proving to be unreliable.  This is no longer the case.

At the recent Houston Parrot Festival, Dr. Sharman Hoppes from Texas A&M shared with the public more information on testing and dealing with the virus.  Recent updates include:

PDD in the environment:  While PDD does permeate the environment and is highly contagious, UV light kills it.  This means that to eliminate the disease in the environment, NOT the bird, we will roll our cages and toys out into the sunlight. This an amazing finding, proving once again that there is nothing quite as healing as sunshine!

Testing accuracy: Crop biopsies had been our chance to properly diagnose this disease, but are only 65% accurate.  Serological testing (blood serum) now has a 90% accuracy rate.  Fecal tests are also proving to be of value.  In a small study, the testing of a fecal sample three weeks in a row came back with accurate results.  The tests were done on droppings, meaning a vent swab is not necessary.  There is a need for further study before this is considered a reliable means of testing, but it looks promising.

Collecting specimens for testing: A very small study has shown that a fecal sample is best kept refrigerated, or in saline.

This is a huge advancement in a disease we know little about.  I’ll continue with updates as information becomes available.

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4 Comments on “PDD Updates!”

Claire  02/08/2010 10:14 pm

I lost a severe macaw to PDD in 2008, she was 2 years old and her name was Flacka. We assumed she was born with it and developped the symptoms at the store we got her from. I don’t know how my husband and i could have have so oblivious to this disease. Only when we brought home our second severe did we realize something was abnormal with Flacka. She had all of the physical symptoms of an outbreak: She was constanly fluffed up, she was perching poorely, she was quietly squaking, her wings were slightly twitching, she was small and of course her feces were abundant with a faul smell to them.
After a lot of testing and a few thousand dollars later, our avian vet. diagnosed her with PDD, yet the tests were not 100% accurate. So after a few more weeks of denial from my part and no way to make her feel somewhat comfortable, we decided to put her to sleep. In the end, she was shaking so much, she could not hold the baby food down, so there was no way we could continue this torture.
Most importantly, the message I need to get accross is to future owners is for them to be very cautious as to who the breeder is going to be. I strongly advise against Pet Stores unless they have a strong and reliable reputation. Good luck to the owners of birds with PDD. My heart goes to you and the bird.

Patty  02/10/2010 10:27 am

Thanks for sharing your story with us. I am very sorry for your loss. PDD is a frightening disease which we know so little about. Your advice about the sources where we obtain our birds is very important. It is contagious and it isn’t know exactly how it transmits. One sick bird can wipe out an entire flock.
You mentioned that this was your second severe. Do you have another bird at home? Any signs of trouble with him/her?

Jenn  12/24/2010 7:10 pm

Testing for PDD has come a long way in the past two years. My cockatiel just tested positive for avian bornavirus (the virus that causes PDD) on both an ELISA and a PCR test–they only required some blood, some swabs, and a feather sample. He’s been sickly on and off, but hasn’t shown any signs of full-blown PDD. We’re treating him with meloxicam now for the inflammation, so hopefully he won’t get too much worse. Our vet isn’t sure what the prognosis is, but we hope we can fend off PDD for a long time yet.

Patty  12/28/2010 12:05 pm

Hi Jenn,
Yes, testing has come so far with PDD. I am excited to see what the future holds. Best of luck to you and your cockatiel!