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Psittacine Beak & Feather Disease (PBFD) Screening

Psittacine Beak & Feather Disease (PBFD) Screening

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DNA Test for Psittacine Beak and Feather Disease (PBFD)

Order Information
1. The sample collection kit (includes 1 sample bag, 1 absorbent card, 1 Avian DNA submission form and 1 envelope with return address) (per bird) will be mailed to your address within 48 hours after we received your order.
2. Once you have received our sample collection kit, please follow the guidelines to collect DNA sample as soon as possible.
3. The DNA test certificate will be sent by mail and email in 5 working days after we received complete DNA samples and submission form.

Sample Collection Procedures
Feather samples:
1. Pluck 2-4 small chest feathers or those under its wing. Feathers should not be obtained by natural shedding in order to ensure an accurate test result. 
2. Place the feathers in the sample bag.

Blood samples:
1. Use a sterilized nail clipper to clip 2/3 of a protruding nail. Allow a small amount of blood to flow freely from the nail. Then, place the absorbent card underneath the toenail and allow the card to absorb 1 to 2 drops of blood. Air-dry the blood on the card for a few minutes.
2. Place the card in the sample bag and make sure the bird has stopped bleeding before putting it back to the cage.

3. Fill out the Avian DNA Submission Form.
4. Send the submission form and sample back to Amvet Biosciences Laboratory using the included envelope.

Wash your hands first before collecting any sample to avoid unnecessary contamination which would affect the accuracy of the result.

More on Psittacine Beak and Feather Disease (PBFD)
Psittacine Beak and Feather Disease, PBFD is caused by a member of the Circoviridae called Beak and feather disease virus, BFDV. This disease causes fatal infections, mainly in young birds. Some older birds may overcome the disease due to their stronger immune system.

BFDV can also affect the liver, brain and immune system causing diminished resistance to infections. Consequently, premature death usually occurs from these secondary bacterial, viral, fungal or parasitic infections.

The disease is thought to be specific for psittacines and all psittacine species should be considered susceptible. Parrots known to be particularly affected by PBFD include, but are not limited to, Cockatoos, Macaws African Grey Parrots, Ringneck parakeets, Eclectus Parrots, Lovebirds. 

PBFD is a highly contagious disease. Transmission of the virus from one individual to another is mainly through contacting infected bird's blood, fecal material or feather dust. It can also be transmitted via contaminated objects like bird carriers, feeding utensils, clothing and nesting materials. The viral particles, if not destroyed, can remain viable in the environment for several months, long after the infected bird is gone.

Typical symptoms include loss of newly developed feathers or development of abnormal feathers, leading to irregular growth or abnormal shape of feathers. Other possible symptoms include overgrowth of beak, symmetrical lesions on the beak and sometimes nails. Weakened immunity, severe weight loss and depression are also possible in later stages of the disease.

Secondary bacterial, viral, fungal or parasitic infections usually occur in young birds as a result of damaged immunity. While the bird immune system fails to eradicate the pathogen, the bird usually dies because of organ failure.

There is no effective treatment so far to cure the disease. But one can still take a high calorie diet and vitamins to strengthen the immune system, so as to delay the time of death. Yet, the best way is to allow young birds to screen for BFDV as soon as possible. If the bird is found to be positive unfortunately, the bird owner can make his plan earlier.

The most effective screening method so far is the molecular PCR technology. Sometimes even the bird is confirmed to carry PBFD, it can still develop normal feathers since PBFD does not usually attack all the feathers simultaneously.  As a result, some other detection methods may not be able screen out the disease, leading to diagnostic errors. However, this case will not happen in PCR test. The virus can still be accurately detected even if we take normal feathers of a suspected bird during latent period. This test is also suitable for birds of any age and breed. Just a few feathers (or very small amount of blood) are required.

The video below shows the process of removing feathers from the bird's chest.

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