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Psittacine Beak & Feather Disease (PBFD)

PBFD, also known as circovirus, is thought to be spread by feather dander, fecal matter and other bodily fluids passed by infected birds.

Margaret A. Wissman, DVM
Posted: July 23, 2013, 1:00 p.m. PDT


Sulphur-crested cockatoo
Signs of PBFD include feather abnormalities, overgrown beaks and nails and lack of powder down. 
Psittacine beak and feather disease (PBFD, also known as circovirus), is a circovirus causing a disease that deteriorates birds by damaging their immune system. PBFD is typically a disease affecting young birds, up to 3-years-old, although symptoms of PBFD have shown up in older birds.The virus is thought to infect younger birds when their immune system is not as strong. Birds can go on for years without showing any signs of the disease.    


PBFD is thought to be spread by feather dander, fecal matter and other bodily fluids passed by infected birds. The virus causes abnormalities in a bird’s feathers, such as feather lesions, overgrown beaks and toenails, and a lack of powder down.


Because there is no vaccine yet for PBFD, it is important that bird owners and breeders exercise responsible pet ownership by working to prevent the spread of the disease. Having your bird tested for PBFD can stop other birds from being exposed to the virus.


Some birds that test positive for the virus can develop a defense against the disease and later test negative for PDFD, indicating a natural vaccination, which should mean the bird has an immunity to the psittacine circovirus. Those birds that begin to show the signs of PBFD cannot yet be treated for the viral infection. While there is no cure or vaccine for PBFD, infections triggered by the disease – fungal, bacterial, mycoplasmal, chlamydial and protozoal – can be treated to improve the bird’s state of health while living with this circovirus.

Disclaimer:’s Bird Health section is intended for educational purposes only. It is not meant to replace the expertise and experience of a professional veterinarian. Do not use the information presented here to make decisions about your bird’s health if you suspect your pet is sick. If your pet is showing signs of illness or you notice changes in your bird’s behavior, take your pet to the nearest veterinarian or an emergency pet clinic as soon as possible.


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