Pacheco’s disease is caused by a herpes virus. Many species of birds are susceptible. Cockatoos and Amazon parrots are very susceptible to the infection and usually die, whereas Nanday and Patagonian Conures seem to be resistant to the disease.
What are the signs of Pacheco’s disease?
Unfortunately, there are no unique clinical signs specific for Pacheco’s disease. Some birds may show only a brief period of lethargy and appetite loss before dying, whereas others may have moist droppings and/or regurgitation of clear mucus. Many birds show no clinical signs and are found dead. Therefore, any sick bird could potentially be infected with Pacheco’s disease. Pacheco’s disease should be considered as a possible cause of death in any bird found suddenly dead, especially if there were no clinical signs preceding death and the bird is in good body condition.
How is Pacheco’s disease diagnosed?
Due to its insidious nature, diagnosis prior to death of the bird is not always possible. If the bird has died, the virus can be detected in the liver, kidneys, intestines, or feces. When Pacheco’s disease is diagnosed after death, which is often the case, it is extremely important to treat other exposed birds.
How is Pacheco’s disease treated?
Since birds with Pacheco’s disease often die suddenly, treatment is not usually effective. An antiviral drug can reduce death rates in other exposed birds; however, it is expensive and can be difficult to administer to birds.
Can Pacheco’s disease be prevented?
Some birds, such as Nanday and Patagonian Conures, carry the virus but never become ill. These species should be housed separately from other species of birds. If you have a bird that died from Pacheco’s, the environment should be thoroughly disinfected and feces should be properly disposed of to prevent transmission to other birds.
A vaccine is available; it is intended for use in high-risk situations. Your veterinarian can discuss the possible use of the vaccine in your pet bird.