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We found out who has Avian Bornavirus and we've decided what to do.

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Welcome back to Animal Wonders.  We've been having a scary and challenging time with our bird flock and I want to let you know what's been going on.


A few weeks ago, we learned that our blue and gold macaw Joy was positive for a virus called Avian bornavirus, or ABV for short.  This virus is really scary because there's no known cure and if your body reacts poorly to it, she could develop Proventricular dilation disease, which is fatal, but there's hope.  ABV alone is not a death sentence.  She can live a completely healthy life with the virus just like the majority of captive birds in the US do.  

So that's the backstory, but our situation is a little more complicated than that.  We don't just have Joy to care for.  We've rescued many displaced birds over the years.  All our parrot-type birds live in the same room, socializing and going through their daily routines together, similar to a flock in the wild, and this virus is very contagious. 

Also, we rescued a new bird just two weeks before finding out Joy has ABV.  Scarlet the green-winged macaw was going through her 30 day quarantine period and we were waiting not so patiently to introduce her to Joy as a possible companion.  We were so excited to see if they would become friends, and when we got Joy's lab results saying she was positive for the virus, we were crushed, thinking they could never be introduced, but there were other big scary things to focus on, like, if we had one bird that was positive for the virus, does that mean everyone has it?

We needed to make the choice of whether we should test all of the other birds.  The test is pretty expensive, so instead of testing everyone, we chose to just test one other bird.  We chose to test Zoe the red-lored Amazon parrot, because she lives the furthest away from Joy and she was one of our first rescues, so she's encountered all of the other birds at some point.  If she was positive for ABV, then it was highly likely that everyone else had it, too.

So once that choice was made, we came back to focus on what to do about Scarlet, the newly rescued macaw.  My thoughts were all over the place.  Would she need to stay in quarantine forever and live separately from the other birds?  Could she even stay with us?  Well, we wouldn't know unless we tested her, too.  

So we sent some swab samples from Zoe and Scarlet to the lab and 10 days later, we learned that both were positive for Avian bornavirus.  Well, now we know.  So, where do we go from here?  

Since two of our birds in the bird room are carrying the virus, that means that it's highly likely all of them have it, but every one of our birds is healthy and showing no signs of reacting to the virus, so while they're probably carrying the virus, at this point, none of them have PDD, thank goodness.

It is interesting that Scarlet is also a carrier of the virus, without having been exposed to our birds.  That demonstrates how prevalent the virus is in the captive bred bird population, and since Scarlet is done with her quarantine period and she's otherwise healthy, it means there's no reason why her and Joy can't be introduced.

So for right now, there's nothing to be done about the virus since there's no cure and since everyone is healthy, then there's no reason to be worried.  If one of the birds does start showing signs of PDD, then we'll have a good idea of what it probably is, so we can support them as needed, and with that, I can take all of my worry and stress and let it go.  I know that our flock is ABV positive and I also know that all of them are healthy and hopefully stay that way for a long time to come, and now onto the exciting business of introducing Scarlet and Joy.

Scarlet is a green-winged macaw, and since she's gone through quarantine, she's healthy, and has no other diseases besides being positive for ABV, she can be integrated into our flock.  I'm really hoping she can become a companion for Joy, which would be so good for both of them.  We'll be seeing more of Scarlet soon, so keep a lookout for her Meet & Greet video.  

It's such a relief that after this big PDD scare, we've come out the other end just fine, and everything has pretty much worked out considering everyone is positive for the virus.  I've learned more about how prevalent Avian bornavirus is in the US and I've learned more about the birds in our flock.  It does change the way we'll be handling future rescue birds, since we wouldn't want to bring in a bird that wasn't already exposed to ABV in case they reacted poorly to it, but everything else has pretty much stayed the same.

I do enjoy change, but having some good old normal routine is also really nice.  If you are concerned about a change in your bird's behavior or just wanna know more about your bird, the best thing to do is talk with your avian vet.  You can decide together whether it's a good idea to run some blood work or get any other testing done, but it's a personal choice whether you want to test for ABV or not.  

Let me know if you have any questions about Avian bornavirus or PDD in the comments below.  If your bird is diagnosed with either of these, it can be scary at first, but learning more about it has really helped me and I hope that by sharing what we've gone through, it helps you, too.  

Thanks for going on this adventure with us.  If you'd like to continue this ride, make sure to subscribe and click that little notification bell so you don't miss a single episode.  Thanks, guys.