All About Disease Testing

All About Disease Testing

What Is Avian Disease Testing and Why Do We Test?

Avian disease testing is the process of samples being taken from your parrot and sent off to a lab to be tested for a range of diseases, these samples usually include a blood test, feather sample or cloacal swab. The whole team here at Soaring Wings Training and many of our friends within the parrot community choose to disease test our parrots yearly as avian diseases are easily transmittable with no vaccinations or cure available, meaning prevention is the best method. This also means if any of our parrots test positive, they will be identified early, meaning they can get the best supportive treatment and most importantly we can limit interactions between infected parrots to minimize the spread of disease. It’s generally accepted by the parrot community that all new flock members should be quarantined for at least 1 month before meeting the flock but we simply don’t feel that’s enough; not only is it incredibly difficult to effectively quarantine parrots within the same home, it’s also possible for any parrot to be an asymptomatic carrier of a disease. This means they can carry a disease for many years without showing any symptoms but continue to transmit the disease to most other parrots they come in contact with (Animal Genetics), as the diseases we choose to test for all have an extremely high mortality rate it’s not a risk we choose to take with our feathered babies. 


What Diseases Do We Test For?

The diseases we choose to test for include Avian Bornavirus (ABV), Psittacine Beak & Feather Disease (PBFD), Polyoma Virus and Chlamydiosis. We would always suggest at least testing for Chlamydiosis, even if you only intend to keep one parrot as it is a zoonotic disease, meaning it can be transmitted from parrots to people. Some common symptoms of ABV, PDBF, Polyoma Virus and Chlamydiosis include but aren’t limited to:

  • Weight loss
  • Passage of undigested food
  • Delayed crop emptying
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea or wet droppings
  • Dehydration
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Ruffled feathers
  • Feather plucking
  • Abnormal feather growth or change in colouration
  • Shiny beak and claws or abnormal growth/degeneration
  • Hemorrhagic (bleeding) areas under the skin
  • Abdominal distention
  • Changes in temperament
  • Shaking of the head/body tremors
  • Balance issues
  • Lethargy
  • Seizures
  • Paralysis
  • Sudden “unexplained”death

(Skylark Vets), (Axelson), (Animal Genetics), (Mayr), (Green).

Information on each specific disease gathered by me and Nash can be found here:

How To Disease Test Your Parrot

There are multiple ways you can disease test a parrot, as all members of the Soaring Wings Team have training in handling parrots and experience in avian first aid we opt to do a home test kit, this means we collect the samples ourselves and post them off to a lab for testing. For the safety of your parrot and yourself we would not recommend this if you do not have training or experience! Alternative methods include asking your avian vet to collect samples and sending them off to a certified lab yourself or asking your avian vet to complete the testing for you, they will still need to send the samples to a lab as very few facilities can complete the tests in house. We choose to provide a blood sample, feather sample and cloacal swab, some labs do offer to test with just a feather sample and cloacal swab but having done our research we opt for a blood test as it’s far more accurate for testing certain diseases. 

For a little back story on why we’re so passionate about disease testing our parrots and limit their contact to only other parrots we know have been disease tested give this video a watch, be warned you may need some tissues.

Diseases can kill your entire flock, please be safe, please test your birds.

Works Cited

Animal Genetics. “Avian Borna Virus (PDD).” Animal Genetics, 2021, Accessed 7 October 2022.

Axelson, Rick. “Polyoma Virus Infection in Birds | VCA Animal Hospital.” VCA Animal Hospitals, 2021, Accessed 7 October 2022.

Green, Hannah. “Avian Bornavirus (ABV).” United Parrot Kingdom, 2021,

Green, Hannah. “Avian Polyoma Virus (APV).” United Parrot Kingdom, 2021, Accessed 2022.

Mayr, Nash. “Avian Chlamydiosis.” United Parrot Kingdom, 2021,

Mayr, Nash. “Psittacine Beak and Feather Disease.” United Parrot Kingdom, 2021,

Skylark Vets. “Psittacine Beak and Feather Disease.” Skylark Vets Limited, 2021, Accessed 7 October 2022.

Written by Hannah Green