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This information is provided by Provet for educational purposes only.

You should seek the advice of your veterinarian if your pet is ill as only he or she can correctly advise on the diagnosis and recommend the treatment that is most appropriate for your pet.

PBFD is a well recognised disease which is usually fatal in Old World Psittacines whereas New World birds can recover

Psittacine Beak and Feather Disease (PBFD)- also known as beak rot, Cockatoo feather picking disease, non-responsive dermatitis -  is caused by a Circovirus and there are two recognised types : PBFD virus 1, and PBFD virus 2. 


Signs of the disease include :

  • Bilaterally symmetrical feather dystrophy - replacement feathers contain  blood in their shafts, have retained feather sheaths, shortening and deformity. There is also a change in colour.
  • Bilaterally symmetrical feather loss
  • Beak deformities - overgrowth, change in colour, reduced glossiniess and fractures
  • Death

The significance of PBFD virus 2 causes is that it causes less severe lesions (identified in lories) than PBFD virus 1 and so euthanasia of affected birds may not be necessary. Also, it is not detected using laboratory DNA probe assays developed to detect PBFD virus 1.


DNA probe test on blood - repeated after 90 days in birds showing no clinical signs. Recovering birds will be negative on blood test long before abnormal feathers are replaced.

Histology (to identify inclusions) on feathers from affected birds.

All birds that test positive should be isolated, and euthanasia is advisable in  cases with PBFD virus 1 infection.


Updated October 2013