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Pacheco's Parrot Disease is a highly contagious, acute disease of
psittacines caused by a herpes virus.
It is associated with stress, which can cause healthy carriers to shed
virus and initiate infection in susceptible birds. It is spread by direct
contact and by aerosol or fecal contamination of food or water.
Amazon parrots, macaws, some parrots, and a few conures (eg,
peach-fronted) are highly susceptible. Morbidity in Asiatic and
Australian parakeets is usually only sporadic. Most conures are
relatively resistant. Nanday, Patagonian, and white-eyed conures
may be natural hosts in the wild, and certain individuals among
them may be asymptomatic shedders of the virus when stressed.
Most of the other species probably can act as carriers.
Signs Pacheco's Parrot Disease
Signs include acute death (carcasses well fleshed), bright yellow
urates with scant feces, anorexia terminally, and visible icterus
(some macaws). At necropsy, affected birds have an enlarged liver
that may be mottled or have other color changes. Petechiae are
sometimes found on the coronary band of the heart, the
ventriculus, and the mesenteric fat. Edema of the mesenteric fat
and ascites also occurs occasionally. Eosinophilic intranuclear
inclusion bodies are found in the liver and spleen. Primary
differentials are acute salmonellosis, polyoma virus, and
psittacine reovirus. Reovirus infection is similar to herpesvirus
hepatitis but is better known for affecting African gray parrots,
Timneh gray parrots, and other parrots. No inclusion bodies are seen
in reovirus infections.
Treatment Pacheco's Parrot Disease
No treatment is available for either disease, although IM injections or
oral acyclovir (or both) have been used in a few cases of herpesvirus.
The most prudent course of action is to immediately divide the flock into
several smaller groups and house in separate rooms or buildings if this
will not expose other birds. Strict hygiene and preventing contamination
of food and water are helpful.
A new vaccine is available (conditional license in the USA) and
has been recommended for the more susceptible parrot species
(eg, Amazons) in open breeding collections or flocks.