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.
Author Patty Jourgensen specializes in avian health, behavior and nutrition and has been working with and caring for rescue birds since 1987.