Many people already know about the Polyomavirus, but it never hurts to have a refresher minute, or to explain the virus to someone new to birds. Polyomavirus is a nonenveloped virus which simply means that it is hardy virus and can live outside of the body of its host. This type of virus resists many disinfectants as well as freezing and high heat. Polyoma is a foamite which means that it can travel on anything such as your clothes, hair, bird dander, even in your lungs. It is highly contagious and often fatal for birds. How common it still is today is unknown, but it is usually deadly to most all species of parrots if they get it at a young age. Sometimes older birds can survive an exposure, but then they may become carriers of the virus and spread it to other birds they come in contact with. It has been found that budgies and cockatiels can be healthy carriers, meaning they can carry the virus, and never show symptoms of illness. It used to be called Budgerigar Fledgling Disease in budgies.
Test can be done by your avian vet using fecal and blood tests to determine whether you bird has the virus, or possibly if your bird has been exposed to the virus and may be a carrier. If the bird has an active case of the virus and is contagious, they will be "shedding" the virus, and it is believed that the virus will show up in the fecal exam. If the bird is a carrier, it usually shows up in the blood work done by your avian vet.
Prevention is critical. You should follow proper quarantine and testing procedures before adding any new bird to your flock to help prevent infecting any birds you may already own. You should always remember that birds can be carriers and that this deadly virus lives for years on objects. If you visit bird fairs, please be sure to follow all steps to ensure you do not bring home any illness with you. Disinfect yourself, and anything you purchase at a fair before exposing it to your bird. If you like to take your bird to your local bird club meeting, or anywhere else there are other birds, you may want to have your bird vaccinated to protect your parrot from this horrible disease.
You can read more about Avian Polyomavirus at the links shown below:
Avian Polyomavirus: My Thoughts, David N. Phalen, D.V.M., Ph.D.Dipl. ABVP (Avian)
Polyoma Virus: The Real Story by Dr. Gregory Rich, DVM:
Prevention of Avian Polyomavirus Infections through Vaccination:
Dr. Branson Ritchie University of Georgia's Psittacine Disease Research Group