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PCR Test Form
PCR Test Form

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 shedding.
  • 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 this virus.
  • 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 virus).
  • There may be both pathogenic and non-pathogenic strains of ABV in birds.

How does a veterinarian or owner submit a sample?
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 $50 or 10 or more samples for $45 each. 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 ABV.

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 moist.

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 significant.
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 77845.

Please see our new Honor Page at vetmed.tamu.edu/schubot/services/honor.