Hygiene Protocols for the Prevention and Control of Diseases (Particularly Beak and Feather Disease) in Australian Birds

Department of the Environment and Heritage, 2006

5. Disease Monitoring of Captive Birds Prior to and During Quarantine

Monitoring of captive birds for specified pathogens is performed prior to entering quarantine, during the quarantine period, in the Breeder modules, and at pre-release.

Pre-quarantine examination (e.g., performed in veterinary hospital)

  • Source of the birds. Wild caught? Aviary-bred?
  • If aviary bred, look at:
    1. The source
    2. Presence of other birds, other species
    3. What disease control/monitoring systems are in place?
    4. What is the disease history of the bird/birds?
  • Have all equipment necessary to collect specimens, in order to reduce stress.
  • Complete physical examination - see Clinical Evaluation Protocol (PDF - 13 KB)
  • Pyrethrin spray for external parasites (particularly non-blood- sucking external parasites).
  • Treat with moxidectin 200μg/kg (nematodes, external blood-sucking parasites)
  • Treat with praziquantel for tapeworm 10-20 mg/kg per os, repeat in 14 days (may not show up on a faecal flotation).
  • Sample collection (some birds may need isoflurane anaesthesia for these procedures, depending on the species, individual bird disposition and the expertise of the collector). Collect blood, feather with blood quill, cloacal swab, oral swab, faecal sample. See Table 1 (below) for tests.
  • Identify all birds - closed rings when nestlings.
  • Sex through plumage
  • Endoscopy ONLY if there is a breeding problem
  • No microchipping for neophemas
    1. Identification number
    2. Date and time
    3. Parents (if known)
    4. Age
    5. Body weight
  • Accurate records, especially of weight, must be maintained
  • Quarantine starts on entry of last bird. If new birds arrive and are placed in the quarantine module with a previous batch, all birds within the module must re-commence their quarantine period. If new birds arrive after quarantine for a batch has commenced, they must wait, or be placed in a different module.

Quarantine Recommendations (see Table 1 below)

  • 63-day quarantine.
  • Faecal smear and faecal flotation performed monthly during quarantine. (done in-house), looking for budding yeasts, hyphae, motile bacteria and spirochaetes, nematodes, cestodes, trematodes, coccidia and other protozoa, M. ornithogaster.
  • Bacterial/fungal enteritis: in-house faecal culture and sensitivity can be performed very cheaply. This can be done fortnightly if considered important, based on known morbidity/mortality factors.
  • External parasites - pyrethrin sprays only if parasites are observed.
  • Chlamydophila PCR (antigen) and Immunocomb (antibody) plus in-quarantine treatment with doxycycline only if positive.
  • Gram stain of oral, faecal or cloacal swab
  • If large numbers of Gram-negative bacteria are found, look at husbandry issues before using antibiotics.
  • During quarantine, if any bird is positive for BFDV or PsHV, they are culled and all negative birds in the consignment go back to day 0. Birds with APV should cease shedding virus in 4-16 weeks - isolate and test.
Table 1: Pre-quarantine and Quarantine Monitoring of Captive Birds




Test Method


- Blood 1 Complete blood count a, c, d
Various Blood 1 Blood smear - parasites a, c, d
BFDV Blood Feather
1, 28, 56
1, 28, 56
1, 28, 56
APV Blood 1, 28 PCR c, d, e
PsHV-1 Blood 1, 28 PCR c, d, e
PsHV-1 Cloacal swab 1, 28 PCR c, d
NDV Serum 1, 28 HI b
C. psittaci Serum 1* Immunocomb (antibody) a, b, c, d
C. psittaci Blood 1* CHLM probe e
C. psittaci Tracheal/oropharyngeal swab 1* PCR (antigen) b
Bacteria, yeasts,internal parasites Faecal (swab).
Can be combined sample
1, 28, 56 Wet mount for AGY, protozoa
Smear - Gram stain for bacteria
Flotation (parasite eggs)
a, c, d
Bacteria,yeasts Crop 1, 28 Smear - Gram stain for bacteria
Smear - stain for protozoa
a, c, d
Various External parasites 1 Expert identification (if deemed necessary) f
Key to Table:
  • .Private laboratories - see Appendix 5.
  • AAHL, State Government Agriculture Laboratories
  • Charles Sturt University, Murdoch University (Raidal)
  • University of Sydney (Phalen)
  • Genetic Science Services
  • Murdoch University (Mr. Russell Hobbs)
For contact addresses of these laboratories, see Section 18.
*Treatment is at the discretion of the AV, only if there is evidence of infection. Sample again after treatment is completed.

Breeder Module

  • Test for quarantine pathogens annually
  • If one or more birds is positive for BFDV or PsHV, they are culled and all negative birds in the breeder module enter quarantine.
  • If one or more birds is positive for Chlamydophila, all birds in the breeder module are treated with doxycycline as for Strategy to Respond to Test Results for Psittacosis (PDF - 23 KB).
  • While the breeder birds are in quarantine, the breeder module is cleaned and disinfected as for Section 8.

Juvenile release testing

Birds moving from either the breeder module or nursery module to juvenile flights, and from the juvenile flights to the release site, should have a full physical exam only. A random or pooled faecal sample may be used to keep a base line on stress, since when moved, parrots tend to have up to 30-40% Gram negative smears and return to normal within 2-3 weeks, the birds remaining healthy in the meantime.

If one or more birds is positive for BFDV, PsHV or APV, they are culled and all negative birds re-enter quarantine. They are not released until they pass quarantine. Unfortunately, it may be 12 months later before they can be released.

If one or more birds is positive for C. psittaci, all birds in the breeder module are treated as for Strategy to Respond to Test Results for Psittacosis (PDF - 23 KB).