A highly sensitive PCR test for indicating avian bornavirus
(ABV) shed in the feces has been developed by researchers here at
Texas A&M University.
Who should use this test?
This test may be useful if you wish to know if a bird in your care
is shedding ABV.
What does a negative test result mean?
A single negative result does not guarantee that
a bird is free of ABV:
- This PCR test was developed from a pathogenic strain of ABV
from one parrot. At least 7 groups of ABV have been
identified to date, and while we believe that this test detects
many of them, it may not detect all ABV types. The test sensitivity
may not be the same for all ABV types.
- Our research indicates that viral shedding can be
intermittent. Some birds shed virus frequently, but others
shed only periodically. We do not know what parameters affect
- Our growing research indicates choanal/cloacal swabs might be
more sensitive to finding the virus.
What does a positive test result mean?
A positive test indicates that the bird is likely infected with
some strain of ABV. A
positive result from this one test does not imply that the bird
is or will ever become ill from ABV. Some important points to
consider if your healthy bird is shedding ABV:
- We do not know if all ABV-infected birds will become ill from
- We have identified ABV shedding in healthy birds.
- We have identified ABV shedding in closed aviaries with no
clinical signs of PDD (for years). It is not certain that any of
these birds will ever develop PDD.
- There may be differences in immunity between Old World versus
New World birds (some ABV shedders may never get sick from this
- There may be both pathogenic and non-pathogenic strains of ABV
How does a veterinarian or owner submit a
If you wish to submit a sample for testing, please complete a
submission form. A single collection of fresh fecal droppings
may be sent, or a series of three fecal collections one week apart
is recommended. Each sample is $30 or 10 samples
for $250. A link to the submission form is located on the
right of this webpage. NOTE: Our research is indicating
that a choanal swab is the best sample method for finding
The sample should be placed in a leak-proof tube. If
collecting three time point samples, they may all go into the same
tube and will be charged as one sample. It is very important
to keep the feces moist and refrigerated at all times. Adding
a few drops of sterile saline would help keep the fecal samples
Test results will be available within 7-10 days. They are
usually faxed or emailed with a hard copy followed in the
mail. Please note that the university is closed around
Spring Break and major holidays so please call in advance to
confirm we are here for receiving samples.
What don't we know about ABV is
If you would like to make a financial contribution directly to
help the ABV research, please send a check to addressed Texas
AgriLife Research c/o Ian Tizard, TAMU 4467, College Station, TX
Please see our new Honor Page at vetmed.tamu.edu/schubot/services/honor.