Psittacine Beak and Feather disease (PBFD)

PBFD is caused by beak and feather virus which is from the family Circoviridae. Infection with this virus causes chronic feather dystrophy and loss, beak deformities, occasionally immunosuppression and death. Death in chronic cases is often due to secondary infections associated with immunosuppression. There are acute and peracute forms which can cause sudden death. Parrots that are known to be particularly susceptible to PBFD include, Cockatoos, Ringneck parakeets, Eclectus Parrots and Lovebirds but all parrot breeds should be considered at risk.  Any psittacine bird with chronic feather loss should be tested for this infection.

 Tests available:

  1. Antigen detection

                HA (haemagglutination test)


  1. Antibody detection

                HI (haemagglutination inhibition test)

  1. Histopathology (to identify typical lesions and viral inclusion bodies)

*PCR is extremely sensitive and may detect circoviral nucleic acid in samples collected from a contaminated environment, particularly feathers. This can lead to false positives in non-infected birds. A single infected bird may lead to surface contamination of all other birds in an aviary. It is therefore recommended to test PCR, HA and HI together to allow most accurate interpretation of an individual's test results.

Histopathology and PCR are recommended for dead birds.




Blood spots (HI, PCR)

Blood feathers (HA, PCR)

Serum or plasma (HI, PCR)

Formalin-fixed tissues (submit a full range of tissues including affected feathered skin and bursa)


Plain yellow-top container (blood spots and feathers)

Lithium heparin or EDTA (blood)

Formalin pots

Collection protocol:

Blood feather - Pluck two blood feathers ensuring there is blood present within the feather quill. Select feathers that are grossly abnormal.

Blood spots - Place a drop of blood on to filter or blotting paper and allow to dry. Blood spots must be at least 6 mm diameter.