Avian Polyomavirus

Avian polyomavirus (APV) is a type of virus that affects birds. It belongs to the Polyomaviridae family, which consists of small, non-enveloped viruses with double-stranded DNA genomes. APV can cause a wide range of symptoms in infected birds, such as respiratory disease, gastrointestinal problems, and neurologic symptoms. In some cases, APV can lead to death.

Symptoms of Avian Polyomavirus

The most common symptoms of APV include respiratory symptoms, such as coughing and sneezing, and gastrointestinal signs, such as:

  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting

Other signs can include:

  • Lethargy
  • Depression
  • Weight loss
  • Poor feather health
  • Neurological symptoms

In some cases, APV can cause death in young birds.

Diagnosing Avian Polyomavirus

Diagnosing APV is typically done through a combination physical examination, and laboratory testing. Symptoms alone cannot definitively diagnose APV, because they are often non-specific and can be seen in other diseases as well. To confirm the diagnosis, laboratory tests such as PCR or virus isolation can be used.

Stages of Avian Polyomavirus

Avian Polyomavirus (APV) has three stages: the acute stage, the subclinical stage, and the chronic stage.

an illustration of a sick pigeon

Acute Stage

In the acute stage, which usually lasts for a few days, infected birds might have symptoms including respiratory disease, gastrointestinal problems, and neurological symptoms. During this period, virus shedding is at its highest, and they’ll be the most contagious.

Subclinical Stage

The subclinical stage follows the acute phase and usually lasts for weeks to months. During this stage, birds might not have any symptoms of the disease, but they can still shed the virus and be capable of transmitting it to other birds.

Chronic Stage

In the chronic stage, which can last for months to years, infected birds might not have any symptoms or virus shedding. During this period, APV can remain latent in their body. It can be activated again if the bird is stressed or becomes immunocompromised.

Treating Avian Polyomavirus

Treating APV is centered around supportive care and management. Antibiotics and antiviral drugs can be used to prevent secondary bacterial infections and reduce virus shedding. In severe cases, vaccination can be used to help boost your bird’s immunity against the virus. 

Good biosecurity measures are essential in preventing the spread of infection.

Preventing Avian Polyomavirus

The best way to prevent APV is through good biosecurity measures. These include:

  • Isolating and quarantining new birds
  • Strictly limiting access to bird facilities
  • Cleaning and disinfecting any bird equipment that comes into contact with infected birds
  • Avoiding contact between healthy and sick birds.