There is so much to say about the contagious diseases that can affect
our pet birds that we could not possibly say it all in one page.
However, we thought a brief summary would help some bird owners
understand which ones could present a risk to their pets. As you
read, you will understand why breeders who have birds at the fair do
not want hundreds of people going from table to table touching all
the birds, so please do not handle a bird unless you are seriously
considering purchasing it. A bird fair is not a petting zoo!!! So
here are some of the diseases we get a lot of questions about:

West Nile Virus: Carried by mosquitos, a big risk to hawks, owls,
eagles, and some backyard birds, but it rarely affects pet birds.
Avoid exposure to large numbers of mosquitos by eliminating standing
water, keeping screens repaired, and keeping birds indoors at dawn
and dusk. No vaccine has been proven to protect birds. You cannot
catch the virus by touching a dead bird found in your yard.

Exotic Newcastle Disease: This virus can affect pet birds, but is
generally seen in chickens when exposed to fighting chickens smuggled
in from Mexico. Avoid visiting poultry farms if you own parrots.

Bird Flu: This virus has made headlines after a number of people in
Asia have died from the disease. Once again, avoid contact with
poultry to protect your pet birds. (No offense intended to our
clients who own chickens! We love seeing them!)

Beak and Feather Virus: Often abbreviated PBFD, this virus weakens
the immune system and causes death due to other infections. It is
potentially contagious thru the air or on clothing via feather dust,
and is believed to only infect birds under 1 to 2 years of age. A
bird may carry the disease for years without being sick, and can only
be detected by a blood test specifically for that disease. No proven
treatment or vaccine is available.

Polyomavirus: A virus that usually only kills young chicks before
they are completely feathered, but may also affect adult Eclectus
Parrots and Caiques. Can be carried and spread by healthy looking
adult birds, and can be spread thru the air or on clothing. Only
testing can detect a carrier bird. A vaccine is available, and we
recommend it for breeders and for susceptible pet birds.

Psittacosis: A bacterial infection that can affect most species of
birds as well as humans on rare occasions. A healthy looking bird
can be shedding this bacteria for months or years before acting
sick. This disease can be tested for and treated with antibiotics.

Proventricular Dilatation Disease: A virus that attacks the nerves to
the stomach or affects the brain. Birds of any age can apparently be
infected by exposure to the droppings of an infected bird, or by
parents feeding their chicks. There is no test or proven treatment
for this devastating disease.

There are many more diseases that can attack our beloved pets, but
these are some of the ones we are most commonly asked about. Have
questions? Feel free to email us at, or call us
at 816-356-4700.

Burge Bird Services
Julie Burge, DVM
13833 S. 71 Hwy
Grandview, MO 64030
(816) 356-4700