Monday, June 06, 2005

AHN Challenge - May 2005

Information about avian PDD research and AHN's fundraising and
outreach activities
...Ritchie selects 2005 Quilt winner May 22, 2005
...Donations presented to EDRG exceed $10,000
...Celebrating Support
...AHN launches "2006 Birds of a Feather Quilt Challenge"
...Ritchie on West Nile Virus: "Use Common Sense"
...PDD in a Colony of Cockatiels
...Ritchie Road Report
...Collaborative fundraising
...The Wowwie Contest and the tradition of avian activism
...It's a Small World
...News and Notes

news starts here -->
...Ritchie selects 2005 Quilt winner May 22, 2005
...Donations presented to EDRG exceed $10,000
...Celebrating Support
...AHN launches "2006 Birds of a Feather Quilt Challenge"
Dr. Branson Ritchie selects 2005 Quilt winner May 22, 2005
Following slide presentations of current work by the
Emerging Diseases Research Group at the University of
Georgia's College of Veterinary Medicine (see "EDRG
RESEARCH" below), Dr. Branson Ritchie reached into the 415
tickets his supporters had purchased and withdrew winning
ticket A0067, belonging to Kari Banta, an Austin,
Texas transportation planner.
Kari won a unique quilt that is the first of its kind in
avian charity fundraising, a collaborative collage of
colorful parrots assembled by charity quilter Ardith
Raine in Las Vegas, Nevada, from quilt squares ("blocks")
sewn by seasoned and amateur bird lovers and bird club
across the U.S.
Photographed block by block and in its entirety, the
"Birds of a Feather" Quilt was impressive to see on the
Internet. But displayed behind AHN tables at several
Bird Marts to test its 'road appeal', the quilt was
absolutely striking. Some passersby found it very moving,
indeed, and many more browsers than usual stopped to hear
about PDD, often staying to buy a ticket (or 5, for a
price discount) in the hope of winning the unique piece.
One man offered to buy it outright for a princely sum.
When table volunteers explained that the quilt was a
drawing prize, he asked for the names of the contributors
so he could contact them to make a quilt "just like this
The names of AHN's "QuiltingBirds" are not for sale, of
course, but they should certainly be acknowledged. As the
quilt is made with many small stitches, it is also
made of many gifts of time and talent and heart and pocket
money by the people most affected by this brutal disease.
AHN's QuiltingBirds developed quilter guidelines,
stitched squares, helped AHN plan and orchestrate its
first charity quilt program.

<>-----<>The Quiltingbirds and other volunteers are
acknowledged in the Adobe Acrobat (PDF) version of the
Challenge, available at

got her first bird when she moved from New York to Texas.
"I was very lonely and needed a friend," she said. "I had
no idea what I was getting myself into!" She and her
husband share their home with an 8 year old Quaker named
Piepmatz and a four year old white capped pionus named
Zoe. "I learned about the horrible nature of PDD by
reading the story of one bird's struggle on an email list
back in 1999," Kari said. "We've been lucky that we've not
had personal experience with it, and I figure it's my
responsibility to help the cause as part of what I do to
take care of my little ones. I guess it's my hope that if
enough people take action, no more birds will have to
Kari was stunned when she received the phone call
announcement from AHN president Valerie Schuster last
Sunday. "I actually couldn't tell my husband because I
started to cry. The amount of love and caring that went
into the quilt,as well as the sadness and urgency of the hit me all at once. I am tremendously grateful
to receive this beautiful piece that contains the hard
work and love of so many people. I've cleared a wall in my
house where it will hang, proudly on display."
Celebrating Support
AHN acknowledged outstanding contributions to PDD
research, education, and fundraising of benefactors on
May 21-22, 2005. Certificates of Appreciation were
presented to Len Charette, of C&L Aviaries in Bensalem,
Pennsylvania; and Pam Thompson and Ed Daisy, of Chantilly,
Virginia. Len has supported fundraising for PDD research
since the very early days of Valerie Wixen's TGPC campaign
and is wellknown for his generous prize donations. Pam's
and Ed's remarkable donations distinguish the passion of
their commitment to the cause of PDD research.
A Certificate of Appreciation was also awarded to The Bird
Heard for its efforts on behalf of the 2005 Birds of a
Feather Quilt. Bird Heard club president Becky
McKirahan submitted one of the first blocks for this year's
quilt, and her entire club pitched in to plan, host and
cater the climactic events at the end of this
first annual fundraising program. This was no small
undertaking, but The Bird Heard, like the little engine
that could, planned and hosted a truly spectacular
presentation event that was awesome in its attention to
Donations Top $10,000 at Quilt Drawing in Maryland
Cotton milling started in Maryland in the 18th century.
Before 19th century rail transportation served the mill
town of Savage, cotton shipped cheaply from Southern ports
was hauled overland by mule and oxen teams to the town's
textile mills on the falls of the Little and Middle
Patuxent Rivers, for manufacture into cotton duck sails
for the tall ships at nearby Chesapeake Bay ports.
The Bird Heard, a cluster of Maryland bird lovers who seem
to simply enjoy having fun together, selected Savage
Methodist Church in this historical textile town
to host AHN's First Annual "Birds of a Feather" Quilt
Drawing. Postponed from April due to a schedule conflict
with Dr. Ritchie's ECAMS presentation, the event fell on
the weekend of the Preakness Stakes, one of America's top
three horse races, at nearby Pimlico Racetrack. Hotel rooms
were hard to find and airfare costs to Baltimore were
higher than usual, but that did not deter the determined!
Nathalie Ross, who lost a precious bird in early May, flew
in from Texas; Kyle Sandler, who is
sponsoring a contest with vendor donated prizes reminiscent
of Valerie Wixen's TGPC, made the trek from North Carolina;
the entire staff of a shop called Birds of a Feather closed
their doors in Pennsylvania for the day to drive down and
drop a $300 donation at the door; and at the last minute,
Steffanie Budnick, one of AHN's own founding directors and
a skilled nurse and mother of two in southern Michigan,
was able to extricate herself briefly from her
responsibilities to attend the event.
Following the Georgia researcher's presentations on EDRG
research, Len Charette (C&L Aviary) presented Dr. Ritchie
with AHN's check for $7500, representing bird lovers
everywhere whose generous donations and participation in
AHN fundraising events support PDD research. At the
event's conclusion, The Bird Heard turned door
receipts totaling well over a thousand dollars over to AHN
for its next check to EDRG -- and a nearby benefactor
promptly pledged to match it. The Bird Heard also turned
over hundreds of dollars of proceeds from their raffle and
refreshments tables.
Okay, that's small potatoes for a man who needs a quarter
of a million dollars to pave the way to a vaccine, but
does it help? "Oh, yes!" Dr. Ritchie replied emphatically.
He gestured at the people seated to hear him speak.
"It's the people who love the parrots that are funding
disease research. Without this support, we wouldn't be
able to carry on any work at all!"
AHN launches "2006 Birds of a Feather Quilt Challenge"
Avian Health Network, Inc., is pleased and proud to
announce its second annual charity quilt event, the
2006 "Birds of a Feather" Quilt Challenge to StopPDD.
As the 2005 Quilt ramped down to its conclusion with
the events in Maryland on Sunday, the 2006 Quilt
Challenge was already rising on its foundation. Program
manager Valerie Schuster is reluctant to discuss details
so soon, but notes that the technical guidelines for
quilters are already being drafted and that last year's
QuiltingBirds can expect to be contacted soon.
Opportunities for artist and vendor sponsorships and
partnering are on the drawing board.
Expect more details about the 2006 Quilt Challenge in
the next Challenge newsletter, and check AHN's website
for interim updates.
...Veterinary Report on West Nile Virus
...PDD in a Colony of Cockatiels
...Ritchie Road Report
...Veterinary Vocabulary

At a special presentation accompanying AHN's Birds of a
Feather Quilt drawing in Savage, MD, on May 22, 2005,
University of Georgia Distinguished Research Professor
Dr. Branson Ritchie, ABVP & ECAMS, presented research
information about avian infectious diseases to several
dozen people in attendance. Attention was absolute through
both presentations, and Dr. Ritchie was as responsive as
an energetic undergrad professor during the Q&A session
following. The slide presentations are already being
discussed on psittacine-related mailing lists, interest
groups, and blogs.
Dr. Ritchie presented general and practical information
about the disease along with a report on EDRG's work
with Drs. Dr. Redig (University of Minnesota) and Dr.
Tully (Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge) on a
plasmid-mediated vaccine specifically for birds.
The disease is deadliest to crows, raptors, and waterfowl.
Although some psittacine species appear susceptible to the
disease, parrots generally appear relatively resistant.
Most birds become subclinically affected, develop an
appropriate immune response, and quickly clear the virus.
Old World birds (African, Indian, European) can usually
survive the disease. Birds originating from the New World
or South Pacific are far more susceptible to infection and
Knowing the facts about West Nile Virus (WNV) can protect
your parrots better than keeping them indoors. "The
benefits of sunshine and clean air are so much greater
than the risk," drawled Dr. Ritchie, "that it's just silly
to deny your birds." But "use common sense," he cautions.
Leave them inside until the morning dew is gone and bring
them in before dusk, times when mosquitoes are most active.
<>-----<>References about parrots and WNV are available
in the Adobe Acrobat (PDF) version of the Challenge,
available at
PDD Update: the Cockatiels study
A month after presenting "Epizootiology of Proventricular
Dilatation Disease in Breeding Cockatiels" to ECAMS
colleagues at the European Conference of the AAV in France
on April, Dr. Ritchie explained the cockatiels study and
its implications to a roomful of attentive laymen in
Savage, MD, on May 22. A diplomate in ECAMS (the European
College of Avian Medicine and Surgery), a Distinguished
Research Professor and current Acting Head of the
Department of Small Animal Medicine at the UGA College of
Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Ritchie also commands respect in
this audience as a practical veterinary practitioner. For
many, there because they have lost their birds, he
represented the single greatest hope that it can be
stopped from happening again. Others were stunned to hear
for the first time how radically lifestyles bird lovers
have taken for granted are having to be changed by
this disease.
Dr. Ritchie speaks well and is clearly accustomed to
teaching. He quickly sketched the history of the disease,
its spread in the United States, Canada and Europe, the
epornitic (attacking many birds in a region at the same
time) character of the disease. Waterfowl, such as geese,
and other free ranging birds - finches, canaries,
spoonbills, toucans and possibly woodpeckers - are known
to carry the disease. All psittacines appear to be
at risk, although data on free-ranging populations has not
been collected.
The disease may be far more prevalent than we know because
it is carried by asymptomatic birds, and not all birds
exposed to PDD contract the disease. Dr. Ritchie talked
at length about the diagnosis of PDD, illustrating his
lecture with accompanying photos from EDRG's cockatiel
study. "It's not PDD until your pathologist gives you a
histologic diagnosis of lymphoplasmacytic ganglioneuritis,"
the researcher emphasized. Individuals without clinical
symptoms but diagnosed microscopically with PDD lesions,
should be considered at extra risk of developing disease.
Birds with clinical signs that are to be treated should be
placed in strict isolation. But "isolate, don't euthanize,"
he begged, distress visible on his face.
AHN hopes to publish a more complete report of this
presentation and about EDRG's cockatiel study in an
upcoming issue of the Challenge.
About EDRG and Branson Ritchie, Ph.D., ABVP, ECAMS
Dr. Ritchie obtained his DVM from the University of
Georgia's College of Veterinary Medicine in 1985 and
his PhD in Medical Microbiology from the same institution
in 1990. In 2000, he received the honored title of
Distinguished Research Professor.
As a member of the multi-disciplined Emerging Diseases
Research Group at the University of Georgia College of
Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Ritchie has been involved in
characterizing the PBFD virus, developing a DNA probe
based assay for the PBFD virus, developing the avian
polyomavirus vaccine and developing DNA probe based
assays to detect polyomavirus, adenovirus and Pacheco's
disease virus.
In conjunction with researchers at LSU, the Emerging
Diseases Research Group has developed and tested assays
for detecting chlamydia nucleic acid in clinical samples
and is involved with the LSU group in testing a vaccine
to prevent chlamydiosis. Currently, the psittacine
disease research group is working on characterizing
the suspect PDD virus and testing subunit vaccines to
prevent polyomavirus-and PBFD virus-induced diseases.
The research group has published more than 50 scientific
publications on infectious diseases of companion birds and
Dr. Ritchie has edited two textbooks, Avian Medicine:
Principles and Applications, and Avian Viruses: Function
and Control. In addition, Dr. Ritchie is a Diplomate of
the American Board of Veterinary Practioners, and a
Diplomate of the European College of Avian Medicine and
Ritchie Road Report
ARLES - March 2005
Dr. Ritchie presented "Epizootiology of Proventricular
Dilatation Disease in Breeding Cockatiels" at the 6th
Scientific Meeting of ECAMS during the European Conference
of the Association of Avian Veterinarians in Arles,
France on April 26, 2005. Dr. Ritchie is a diplomate in
ECAMS, the European College of Avian Medicine and Surgery.
<>-----<>Other papers presented in sessions at the four-
day conference are listed in the Adobe Acrobat (PDF)
version of the Challenge, available at, or
see the Arles Conference program: [http://www.vogelklinik.]
MARYLAND - May 2005
PDD in Cockatiels; Notes on West Nile Virus
The Bird Heard
May 22, 2005
Savage, MD
Slide presentations (reported above) about West Nile Virus
and PDD Cockatiels colony study in conjunction with AHN's
2005 "Birds of a Feather Quilt" drawing.
MONTEREY - August 2005
26th Annual Association of Animal Veterinarians Conference
August 8-12, 2005
Monterey, CA
Dr. Ritchie will not be presenting at the AAV Conference
this year. PDD-related papers will include:
...Proventricular Dilation Disease in a Peregrine Falcon
...Case Report: A typical Presentation of Proventricular
Dilatation Disease in a Double Yellow-headed Amazon
BELFAST - September 2005
Dr. Ritchie has accepted an invitation to speak at the
International Conference on "Animal Circoviruses and
Associated Diseases" at Queen's University in the
heart of Belfast, Ireland, between September 11 and 13th,
2005. This conference, sponsored by the European
Association for Veterinary Virology, will provide an
opportunity for scientists, veterinarians and other
end-users to meet, debate and discuss important aspects
of circovirus research with particular focus on
pathogenesis, epidemiology and control of circovirus
Veterinary Vocabulary
A pathogen is a biological agent that can cause disease
to its host. A synonym of pathogen is "infectious agent".
The term "pathogen" is most often used for agents that
disrupt the normal physiology of a multicellular animal
or plant. However, pathogens can infect unicellular
organisms from all of the biological kingdoms (see
Viruses, below). []
Etiology (alternately aetiology, aitiology) is the study
of causation. The term is used in philosophy, physics
and biology in reference to the causes of various
phenomena. It is generally the study of why things occur,
or even the reasons behind the way that things act.
Assigning or seeking to assign a cause of a specific disease
...Collaborative fundraising
...The Wowwie Contest and the tradition of avian activism
...It's a Small World
...Rumors and Announements
Corporations and celebrities busy themselves with bigger
causes when they turn their attention to good works. We
who support research into a disease afflicting the
psittacine populations are a pretty specialized population
ourselves. The grass roots efforts of individuals and
charity organizations, bird clubs, publications, etc., can
really help to make a difference...

---------------------------------------------------------- a beautiful, collaborative thing.
Who can forget Valerie Wixen's "Grey PoopOn Challenge"
(TGPC), a remarkable testament to her lost companion Mocha?
This collaboration of artists and vendors and a generous
avian public to raise research funds across the Internet
helped to define a new paradigm for electronic fundraising.
All of AHN's fundraising programs have been inspired and
informed by TGPC, including the new 2006 Quilt Challenge.
On March 28, 2004, the Buffalo Hookbill Association
together with Parrot Fund International sponsored the
"Buffalo Parrot Conference 2004" at D'Youville College
in Buffalo, NY, raising $8,750 for PDD research.
Now we have The Wowwie Contest, spontaneously ignited
when Nathalie Ross' companion grey Wowwie passed away
on May 4, 2005. Sponsored by Kyle Sandler of Parrotrents
(Online Bird, Inc.), this drawing features prizes that
"are things Wowwie loved," including toys and supplies
provided by a number of vendors. Len Charette of C&L
Aviary, long known for his commitment to PDD research,
donated a Sterling scale as the grand prize, and pledged
to match a thousand dollars. To enter the drawing, provide
Online Bird with a donation to PDD research, or a receipt
for a donation, between now and May 31, 2005. At this
writing, the contest has received more than $2000 in
donations, pledges, and donation receipts.
All proceeds will be donated to the Emerging Diseases
Research Group (EDRG) at the University of Georgia to
support PDD research. The contest ends on May 31, 2005;
drawing results will be available on June 5.

...The Wowwie Contest:
...Buffalo Parrot Conference:
...About TTGPC:
Note: While The Wowwie Contest is not an AHN-sponsored
event, it provides a similar value to donors and to
research organizations by organizing small sums of money
into more significant donations. EDRG and the foundation
which supports it are not set up to process small
donations - it has been known to cost them more than
the value of the donation to do so. By aggregating
donations and using volunteer time and effort to defray
administrative costs, fundraising events like the Wowwie
Contest and AHN's Quilt Challenge help to keep
researchers and research dollars focused on research,
not administration.
A Bank of America employee figured out how to make her
donation in Wowwie's name (see GRASS ROOTS FUNDRAISING,
above) count four ways! She
...donated $50 to AHN's StopPDD campaign,
...doubled the donation by registering it with the Bank of
America's matching gift program,
...used her receipt to enter the Parrotrents-sponsored
Wowwie Contest with a chance to win great prizes,
...and qualified AHN as a recipient for future donations
by BoA employees!
Everyone wins - especially the birds! Way to go!
Over on the Bird Board, The Outlaw suggested a letter
writing campaign to Jimmy Buffett. Or anything!
"You can make a difference," The Outlaw writes,
"Quit smoking, put that money in a jar and send off
a check for whatever [you] save. The next time you go
to the grocery store and use merchant coupons, put that
money aside and do the same thing. I know that on any
given month, I find at least $5 in the washer and dryer.
I've been saving that for 2 years now and sending off
contributions. Hell, I don't even miss it!" And suddenly
others begin to pledge, one after another: the cost of
carton of cigarettes each month, a day's pay, a letter
to Jimmy Buffett, a resolution to spread the word about
protecting beloved birds. (Ed. Note: Say, Parrotheads,
Jimmy's not the only celebrity with a penchant for parrots Pokemon cards, gotta get em' all!)
On hearing AHN's announcement of the 2006 "Birds of a
Feather" Quilt Challenge to StopPDD, Bob Howard, the
avian photographer featured in ParrotChronicles' article
about PDD last year, volunteered his professional
services to shoot high-quality stills of the new quilt
for publicity and promotion next year. Outstanding,
Bob - thanks!
While AHN's 2004-2005 "Birds of a Feather" fundraiser
quilt was the first of its kind among avian charity
organizations, it was not the last. Diane McKinney,
who managed AHN's first quilt program briefly in 2004,
subsequently created her own quilt and donated it to
The Alex Foundation, where it was raffled off on May
2, 2005. In a remarkable twist of fate, winning ticket
183258 belonged to AHN president Valerie Schuster.
"I've always supported Dr. Pepperburg's research,"
Valerie explained, her companion grey, Cleo, audible
in the background. "It's because of Alex that I first
got interested in African Greys." Since contest rules
make our directors ineligible to enter AHN-sponsored
drawings, Valerie leaped at the chance to make a
personal contribution to the Alex Foundation and
support Diane McKinney's generous contribution to
avian research. "But I never expected to win!"
Valerie exclaimed, "I've got to figure out a way to
keep this good karma going!" She says she is
considering donating the handsome quilt to an
undisclosed avian charity foundation for display in
its corporate offices.
The Alex Foundation (
Congratulations to AHN volunteer Ingrid McCue on the
birth of her baby boy Aaren on April 26, 2005. At
more than eight pounds, the baby is healthy, his mother
recovering cheerfully. Still pitching in from her
bedside, Ingrid volunteered to proofread this newsletter.

c. 2005, Avian Health Network, Inc.
The Challenge is a newsletter for volunteers, donors,
and other participants in the fundraising and outreach
activities of Avian Health Network, Inc. (AHN). The
text version of the Challenge may be abbreviated for
size or format reasons.
AHN does not warrant the accuracy or completeness of
the information, text, or other items contained within
these materials. AHN cannot guarantee the accuracy or
timeliness of the information contained herein, nor the
information distributed by other groups or resources
referenced in this document. Any veterinary information
contained herein is for informative purposes only, and
is not meant to substitute for quality avian veterinary
care. Those with birds exhibiting any symptom of illness
should immediately seek the advice of a qualified avian
medical professional.
Newsletter articles may be reprinted on the WWW if
attributed to AHN's Challenge newsletter or StopPDD
campaign. We encourage you to link to the home page of
our public charity website at URL,
and to download banners for use at your website.
AHN does not currently cross-post links.
Avian Health Network, Inc. is a 501(C) 3 corporation
headquartered and incorporated in the Commonwealth of
Virginia. We are an organization of volunteers with
no paid personnel. We are committed to raising public
awareness and funds for avian diseases such as PDD.
Financial Statement is available upon written request
from the State Office of Consumer Affairs, Commonwealth
of Virginia. Proceeds generated by the StopPDD campaign
will go to help subsidize the research of the Emerging
Diseases Research Group (EDRG) at the University of
Georgia's College of Veterinary Medicine.