Pat Palmer foundation and Schubot Center join forces to fight PDD in psittacines

We are happy to announce that The Schubot Center for Avian Health has received a grant from the Pat Palmer Foundation to continue their work on Avian Bornavirus, the virus that causes Proventricular Dilatation Disease (PDD) in psittacines. The Pat Palmer Foundation, founded in 2007, is committed to improving the health and welfare of captive psittacines.  Since 2016, they have supported the Schubot Center’s efforts find solutions to the major health and welfare problems facing captive parrot populations.

PDD was first described in the late 1970s in young macaws imported from the Santa Cruz area of Bolivia and that is why was originally called “Macaw Wasting Disease”. It is suggested that it was a new disease in macaws and other large psittacines species because of its high lethality.  Today, it has been found in over 50 different species of psittacines and a number of other birds from canaries to waterfowl. Unfortunately, there is no effective cure for PDD research continues to look for more effective ways to mitigate, slow, or prevent the development of GI or neurological symptoms of PDD/AGN

Proventicular Dilation Disease (PDD) was first described in macaws, such as the Scarlet Macaw (Ara macao) above. Picture: Susanne Vorbruggen

The name PDD comes from a common clinical outcome: dilation of the proventriculus (widening of the region of the stomach between the crop and the gizzard). This dilation is caused by accumulated food due to partial paralysis of the digestive system. ABV infections can affect multiple body systems including the central nervous system and the GI tract.  Other conditions can mimic some or all of the symptoms of PDD.  While some ABV infected birds develop PDD, many birds who test positive for ABV do not develop any symptoms.  It is currently unknown what triggers disease progression after infection and continues to be an area of active research investigation

Thanks to the generosity of the Pat Palmer Foundation and the support of the Schubot Endowment, The Schubot Center has brought on Dr. Caitlin Mencio to lead the research on ABV. She is joined in the effort by the staff and faculty of the Schubot Center as they follow in the steps of Dr. Ian Tizard, former center director, in the search for ways to reduce ABV transmission, improve diagnostic testing, and reduce the impacts of this terrible disease.