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Research Update: June 2003

Companion Animal Emerging Disease Group
Psittacine Disease Research
University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine

Branson W. Ritchie, DVM, PhD, Diplomate AVBP and ECAMS
Distinguished Research Professor

It has been through the concern and support of dedicated aviculturists that the Psittacine Disease Research Group at the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine has been able to recover the virus responsible for PBFD (psittacine circovirus), develop a diagnostic test which allows control of PBFD, develop improved diagnostic assays for Chlamydophila psittaci (the cause of psittacosis) and develop diagnostic assays and a vaccine to help control the spread of avian polyomavirus. In conjunction with researchers at LSU we have also been making progress in development of a vaccine to control the spread of Chlamydophila psittaci.

In North America, the diagnostic tests we developed are available at local avian veterinarians through Antech, Idexx and the Infectious Diseases Laboratory at the University of Georgia. The polyomavirus vaccine has been available since December of 1995, and field data suggests that this vaccine has substantially reduced losses associated with avian polyomavirus infections. You can locate a veterinarian in your area that is using the vaccine by calling the vaccine manufacturer (913-894-0230).

With control measures readily available for psittacine circovirus (formerly PBFD virus) and avian polyomavirus, we have focused our long-term research efforts on resolving the 20 years of devastation associated with proventricular dilatation disease (PDD).

To date, we have been able to demonstrate that PDD is transmissible and we are working to develop diagnostic assays that will help us prevent the spread of the virus we suspect is causing this disease. We hope that this research will lead to methods that will help aviculturist and veterinarians prevent PDD just as we have provided these groups with information to prevent PBFD, avian polyomavirus and psittacosis.

Our research group has been steadfastly working to improve the health and happiness of companion birds for 16 years. We continue to seek support that help our efforts and ultimately reduce that chances that one of our feathered friends will die from PDD.

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