Avian Bornavirus – What Do You Know About This Bird Centric Disease?

Avian Bornavirus – What Do You Know About This Bird Centric Disease?

Last Updated on by Catherine Tobsing

[email protected] replied – Feb 14, 7:35pm

Hi there,

This is my first time at your store.

I love it!

I have 2 White Bellied Caiques (WBC) and a Green Cheek Conure (GCC).


Species Profile White-bellied Caiques on HARI.com

One of my WBC, Jaden, has the Bornavirus and has been near death many times his first year and a half.

We upped his Celebrex and he’s been free of symptoms for 11 months.

He only gets Harrison’s High Potency with some soft fruits.

We don’t want his tummy to get aggravated in the least.

So unfortunately he doesn’t get seed treats or anything else.

We are always looking for treats that won’t hurt his stomach.

Do you have any other suggestions for other treats that don’t have hard seeds in them or even bits of seed with the exception of ones that have been ground up which is OK like Harrison‘s type granular?

Do you have other customers that have a bird with Borna virus and are there any things we can learn from what works for their birds as far as treats go ?

Do you have any samples of anything that the companies give to you but we might try before we buy a big bag of something treat-wise for Jaden ?

Any suggestions are always welcome as we’re always learning to improve our birds health and vitality .

Thank you so very much,


Hey Jon – WOW!

First a little housekeeping.

Bornavirus generally affects nerve cells and is considered a neurotropic virus similar to rabies, herpes virus, Poliovirus, and Japanese Encephalitis.

Its name comes from the town of Borna in Saxony, Germany where the bornavirus was discovered circa 1885 in cavalry horses.

Many domestic and feral animals can get it like horses, cattle, sheep, birds, dogs and even foxes

In the year 2000, the Swedes isolated BVD from wild birds like mallards and jackdaws.

Ostrich farms in Australia have even seen BVD cases as well

In 2008 Bornavirus was found in pet birds by researchers catUCSF while studying Proventricular Dilatation Disease (PDD)

The scientists were able to isolate a negative-stranded RNA virus which turned out to be part of the Bornaviridae family which was then aptly named ‘Avian Bornavirus’ (ABV).


Without getting any more technical the disease prevents animals to digest their food properly.

bird digestive system diagram

PDD causes a severely dilated thinwall of the proventriculus which may rupture which means undigested food will find its way in to the birds abdominal cavity which does nothing but trigger infection and oftentimes death.


What’s interesting the lab that we used for DNA testing received feathers from six birds and five of the six tested positive for ABV and although the birds had no rapid weight changes in either direction all the birds were pluckers.


A preventative measure would be to have your bird tested to help prevent the disease not spreading


If the bird tested positive you’re going to want to disinfect the contaminated area using an oxidizer solution like diluted bleach 50 parts to one a little dish soap wouldn’t help because it will act as a wetting agent


Unfortunately ABV has no treatment that we know of your vet can test for AVV/PDD which we would suggest especially one bring in a new bird into the house


Hi Mitch,


I already bought the product from you and tried it on my Caique. He didn’t like it?


Do you have any suggestions or samples?


He’s on a strict diet so unless it works for a treat/training it will be money lost.


Thanks for your help,




Kudos for your your efforts in saving this bird going to great lengths.


Just a note about Harrison’s Organic and non GMO bird food pellets –  typically after six months they recommend migrating from High Potency to Daily Maintenance


Pellets are counterintuitive to birds and they will not always readily accept them as you can see but there’s a few things you can do. Moisten them with juice like apple or orange.


Pull all other food out of the cage at night leaving only the pellets. Many birds enjoy middle of the night snacks so this may work


I reached out to Melanie at HARI Hagen head of customer service.

Also a bird companion and breeder for 25 years.


This was her response:


HI Mitch,


Since the proteins are much easier to digest, this will help with nutrient assimilation in the bird’s body.


It’s also helpful that Hagen Alternative Formula ingredients include montmorillitnite clay-which also soothes GI tract.  


The clay is a mid-ingredient in the Alternative, so I would also suggest sprinkling Hagen HARI Clay-Cal™ on this bird’s soft foods once or twice a week.


Customer needs to tell vet that she is offering the clay just in case the bird has to be on antibiotic.




Hope that helps






Mitch Rezman

Leave a Reply

Close Menu