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Avian PDD Research (Worldwide)

Here are some of the people and teams engaged in PDD-related research programs and related avian research.
Please send any additions, corrections, and updates to this list to Avian Health Network, Inc.

University of Georgia
College of Veterinary Medicine (US)
Emerging Diseases Research Group
 Branson Ritchie, Chris Gregory, et al.

"Each companion bird that suffers from a preventable disease, or dies before its natural life expectancy, represents an unfortunate and unacceptable deficit in our knowledge".- Dr. Branson Ritchie

The Emerging Diseases Research Group (EDRG) at the University of Georgia's College of Veterinary Medicine is a multi-disciplinary team formed two decades ago to determine the cause of the fatal psittacine beak and feather disease (PBFD). EDRG was known formerly as PDRG or PRG - the Psittacine Diseases Research Group.

EDRG's research not only identified the cause of PBFD (now called "psittacine circovirus 1"), but the causes of "avian polyomavirus" and "psittacine circovirus 2", as well. EDRG developed a DNA probed based assay for PBFD virus as well as DNA probed based assays to detect polyomavirus, adenovirus and Pacheco's disease viruses. This work means we can now protect our birds and flocks from diseases that were a devastating threat less than a decade ago. We need to add PDD to the list of conquered killers.

EDRG's current research includes characterization of the suspect PDD virus and testing of subunit vaccines to prevent polyomavirus- and PBFD virus-induced diseases. EDRG has confirmed the transmittable nature of PDD and recovered and purified a virus. The suspected PDD virus has been adapted to cell culture, which will greatly assist progress with the second phase of the work, which is to develop a screening test, vaccination, or both.

The research group has published more than 50 scientific publications on infectious diseases of companion birds. Dr. Ritchie has edited two textbooks, Avian Medicine: Principles and Applications and Avian Viruses: Function and Control.

Articles by the EDRG

Progress in Preventing PDD, Polyomavirus and PBFD Virus - from 1998 MARE proceedings.

Related viral research

  • 1998 International Virtual Conference in Veterinary Medicine: Diseases of Psittacine Birds - List of papers
  • "Beak and feather disease virus and porcine circovirus genomes: intermediates between the geminiviruses and plant circoviruses" - abstract. Springer-Verlag Wien, New York: Archives of Virology, 143:9 (1998), pp 1723-1744.

Articles about EDRG

  • Angela Davids: "A Look at Aviculture Yesterday and Today". Bird Talk 20:6 (August 2002), pp. 31-33.
  • PDD Update, published by the International Aviculturalist Society, Winter 1998. [Adobe Acrobat PDF format]
  • Steven N. Koppes: "Survival of the Flittest". from the Spring 1998 Research Reporter (27:2).

University of Florida
Department of Pathobiology
College of Veterinary Medicine (US)

Jack M. Gaskin, DVM, PhD

The stated mission of Dr. Gaskin's laboratory is "to improve the recognition and control of selected infectious diseases of animals." Dr. Gaskin is interested in host responses to infection as they relate to serological diagnosis, and the development of vaccines. He believes that antigen production for diagnostic and immunizing purposes is critically important.

Dr. Gaskin has a major interest in virus infections of birds, particularly of the parrot family. He investigates disease outbreaks in psittacine aviaries, trying to isolate and identify causative agent(s). He has worked with psittacine herpesviruses, polyomaviruses, reoviruses, and poxviruses, and is attempting to develop attenuated virus vaccines for Amazonpox, lovebirdpox, and Pacheco's disease.

He is also seeking to find the cause of proventricular dilatation disease (PDD), and a means of identifying asymptomatic carriers of Pacheco's disease.

Colorado State University (US)
Department of Clinical Sciences

Terry Campbell, MS, DVM, PhD
Matthew S. Johnston, VMD, ABVP

Veterinary Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania (US)
Special Species Section

Karen Rosenthal, MS, DVM, DABVP-Avian
Jeleen Briscoe, VMD
James Boutette, DVM
Mary K. Taylor, CVT

Research Mission Statement

As a group, we strive to further the knowledge and understanding of avian wellness and disease through clinical research. Our main focus is advancing the diagnostic capabilities of the avian practitioner, with further emphasis on emergency/critical care and in house techniques. We work closely with and utilize the expertise of the Universitys advanced poultry diagnostic laboratory, which allows us access to research in infectious diseases of pet birds.

As part of our research goals, we also hope to interest veterinary students and interns in pet bird medicine by exposing them to various aspects of our ongoing clinical studies. We feel that this exposure will help to stabilize the future of avian medicine and bring to the forefront many of the issues facing the pet bird practitioner.

The Veterinary hospital of the University of Pennsylvania (VHUP) sees more than 20,000 small animal patient visits a year.

Veterinary Molecular Diagnostics, Inc. (US)
Milford, Ohio

 Bob Dahlhausen D.V.M., M.S.


Canada: Ontario Veterinary College
University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada
Veterinary Teaching Hospital

 Dr. Michael Taylor

  • Husbandry - notes from a presentation and conversation with Dr. Taylor at the 11th Annual Parrot Symposium in Toronto, Canada 2000.
Mark Hagen, M Ag.
Department of Animal and Poultry Science

  • Hagen Avicultural Research Institute (HARI) in Rigaud, Quebec, was established in 1985 to study the captive breeding and maintenance of companion birds. At present, the breeding colony houses over 350 pairs of more than 50 various parrot species.

Veterinary Laboratories Agency (United Kingdom)
Head of Avian Virology Diagnostic Unit

 Richard E. Gough

Project: Isolation and identification of viruses associated with Proventricular Dilatation Disease (PDD).
  • to fully characterize the isolated PDD - candidate viruses,

  • to undertake a serological survey in PDD affected and non-affected aviaries using the virus isolates,

  • to extend the range and type of cell cultures to improve our virus isolation capability and

  • develop and evaluate ELISA techniques for the detection of specific viral antibodies in Psittacine sera and viral antigens in tissues.

... our virological studies into PDD of parrots... resulted in the isolation of several viruses not previously reported to occur in parrots. Using the recently isolated reovirus, rotavirus and coronavirus-like agent we have tested over 60 parrot sera from various aviaries for antibodies to the three viruses. The serological tests used were virus neutralisation in macaw embryo cells and chicken embryo liver cells using microtitre plates. Preliminary results indicate that antibodies to reoviruses and rotaviruses arc widespread in psittacine species and show no association with cases of PDD. Antibodies to the coronavirus-like agent have been detected much less frequently but have been associated with PDD on several occasions. However, we have also detected antibodies to this virus in sera from parrots with no history of PDD. Clearly, further studies are required to elucidate the role of the coronavirus. in relation to PDD.

Department Of Avian Virology
Central Veterinary Laboratory (CVL)
KT 15 3NB (Weybridge) Surrey, UK
Phone: +44 1932 357349
Fax.: +44 1932 357856

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