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Polyomavirus in Non-budgerigar Psittacine Birds

By: Dr. Branson Ritchie

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Several therapies, including various immunostimulants and antiviral drugs designed for other viruses, have been suggested for the treatment of birds with avian polyomavirus. Included in the group of frequently mentioned therapies are interferon (a nonspecific immunostimulant), acyclovir (an antiviral drug with specific activity against some herpesviruses) and AZT (an antiviral drug with activity against some retroviruses).

Anecdotal evidence suggests that some of these therapies may be effective in the treatment of birds with clinical signs suggestive of avian polyomavirus. However, none of these treatments has been demonstrated to be effective in birds with documented (demonstration of virus in affected tissues) avian polyomavirus infection. Of these speculative therapies, interferon may be the most promising.

Prevention

As is the case with many viral-induced diseases in companion animals, vaccination plays a pivotal role in reducing the incidence of avian polyomavirus infections. However, because no vaccine is 100% effective, vaccination should not be expected to completely combat the deleterious effects of poor management or hygiene. Other procedures that will reduce a bird's exposure to this virus include:

  • Never ship or accept an unvaccinated bird.
  • Clean and disinfect the nursery environment regularly.
  • Ship only weaned birds.
  • Use biosecure shipping containers to prevent virus exposure during transport.
  • Maintain a closed aviary, and strictly limit visitations by non-aviary personnel.
  • Never return a neonate to the nursery if it has been exposed to other birds.
  • If new birds must be added to the flock, vaccinate and quarantine them for a minimum of 60 to 90 days.
  • Never mix neonates from multiple sources in the same airspace.
  • Use separate feeding instruments for each bird.
  • Never use a feeding utensil and place it back in a common food container.

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