Ask Lafeber


July 20, 2018

PBFD question: how long a bird should remain in quarantine after a negative test result?

Hi, Lafeber. My birds love your avi-cakes.

I have a question about how long a bird who was once PBFD positive but turned negative should wait before he could mingle with other birds in his household.

Let me explain the situation:
One of my friends has an African Grey, who is now 2 years and 4 months old. When he was adopted, his owner took him to an avian veterinarian and got several tests. His PBFD test came back positive, so his quarantine continued and he was unable to see any bird in his household. He was separated from his owner’s flock, which consists of several budgies, macaws, greys, caiques and others.
Weeks later after the first test, the African grey’s second test came back negative. One year and 10 months have passed since this 2nd test, and the bird took 6 tests already, all of which came back negative.
However, the owner of this African grey says that she cannot bring herself to end the long quarantine and let him mingle with other birds in her house, because she has two birds who are less than 3 years old (an African grey who is 2 years old and a caique who is 1 year old), and because the African grey still has the feathers from the time when he was young and PBFD positive. She is afraid that there may be causative virus of PBFD still latent in his feathers and the virus might infect the two young birds who are at the ages supposed to be tender and sensitive to PBFD (that’s less than 3 years).

Her veterinarian recommends that the bird can fly with other birds in his household after a molt and his feathers get replaced with new feathers. Yet, she’s still unsure how long she should wait.

So, I would like to ask lafeber and its avian experts an advice about this situation.
Thank you in advance.


Hi Hiro,

Below is the response from Dr. Susan Orosz. I also asked her about the molting, because really this bird should have molted a few times in nearly two years. Regarding the molting, is the bird on a nutritionally balanced diet?

Dr. Orosz’s reply:

First of all not all PCR tests are created equally. So lets say that the test is negative – the question is was the test done with blood? And then -was the test actually probing for the correct part of the DNA of the virus. Those bird patients that are truly positive for the virus will test positive by PCR when using blood. And it would be highly unusual for the virus to be there if there were that many blood PCR tests that were negative. While the virus for PBFD hides out, it will be found in the white blood cells on the blood test. If all has been done correctly it’s time for this wonderful flock grey to meet its friends. And by the way of the species that can contract the virus, those species susceptible are African greys, budgies and caiques. The molting issue is most likely not an issue relating to PBFD. I hope this helps.

Susan Orosz PhD, DVM, Dipl ABVP (Avian), Dipl ECZM (Avian)

Thank you for asking Lafeber,


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