Polyomavirus disease is a serious infection that affects birds. It's caused by psittacine polyomavirus, a virus that is related to one that can cause warts in birds. Here are four things parrot owners need to know about polyomavirus disease.
How does polyomavirus disease spread?
Psittacine polyomavirus can spread very easily. It can spread through eggs, which means that baby birds may get the virus from their mothers when they hatch. It can also be spread through direct contact with feces or through items that have been contaminated with feces, like food, water, or surfaces. The virus can also spread through the air. Since it can spread in so many ways, the virus can easily spread from bird to bird.
What are the symptoms of this infection?
There are different strains of psittacine polyomavirus, and they can present as slightly different illnesses. Generally, birds that are infected with the virus will have abnormal feathers and feather lesions. In addition to these symptoms, your bird may be depressed or lose interest in their food; weight loss may also result. Some birds also develop gastrointestinal symptoms like diarrhea or regurgitation. Another possible symptom is slight hemorrhaging.
If you notice any combination of these symptoms, your bird may have polyomavirus disease and needs to be seen by a vet, like those at River View Veterinary Service LLC, immediately. This disease is very serious and mortality rates of up to 100% have been reported in some outbreaks.
How do vets treat it?
There is no cure for polyomavirus disease, so all your vet will be able to do is offer supportive care. Supportive care includes things like intravenous fluids and painkillers; these treatments help to keep your pet comfortable while their body fights off the virus. Since the mortality rate is so high, prepare for the possibility that these treatments won't be successful and your pet will need to be euthanized.
How can you prevent it?
Young birds can be vaccinated against this disease. The vaccine is given in two doses. If your parrot will be exposed to other parrots, ask your vet about having them vaccinated.
If you buy a new parrot to keep your existing parrot company, make sure to quarantine them first, even if they seem healthy. Infected birds can shed the virus for up to 90 days. Once 90 days have passed, you can introduce your two birds.
Limit access to your parrots to reduce the risk of them getting the virus. If someone who's been in contact with an infected parrot is in close proximity to your parrot, the virus could be transferred to your pet.
If you think your parrot has polyomavirus disease, take them to a vet immediately.