Pacheco’s Disease Virus
Description: Pacheco’s disease virus (PDV) is caused by a herpes virus that affects the liver, spleen and kidneys of pet birds. Susceptible hosts include psittacine parrot species. There are numerous serologically distinct herpes viruses, and some strains are much more dangerous (virulent) than others. Because this is caused by a herpes virus, surviving birds should be considered carriers, able to shed periodically, especially when stressed.
Symptoms of PDV may include sudden death with no clinical signs, lethargy, anorexia, ruffled plumage and periodic diarrhea, yellow-green urates, increased urination (polyuria), and increased water consumption (polydipsia). Less common symptoms include hemorrhagic diarrhea, conjunctivitis and violent seizures when the bird is near death.
An outbreak of PDV in a flock or group of birds may be caused by stress, such as an extreme change in environment which may cause a carrier bird to begin shedding the virus. Since commercial importation of psittacines into the United States no longer occurs, there are fewer carrier birds around today than there were 20 years ago. In outbreaks, a wild carrier psittacine may infect an aviary or birds may become exposed when they encounter birds shedding the virus or the virus may be transmitted to birds from contaminated aerosols or ingestion of contaminated excrement (fecal/oral transmission).
Immediate Care: If any of the clinical symptoms listed above are noticed in your pet bird, immediately see your avian vet. Treatment for PDV depends on the strain as well as the host bird. Treatment is most effective if the clinical signs of the disease are not yet showing. Some anti-viral medications, such as acyclovir (used for human herpes outbreaks) are used during an outbreak.
Long Term Care: Any birds confirmed with PDV should be kept isolated from non-infected birds to prevent transmission and care should be taken to prevent transmission via excrement from infected birds.
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