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Aust Vet J. 1984 Mar;61(3):69-74.

The pathology of psittacine beak and feather disease.


Psittacine beak and feather disease is characterised by loss of feathers, abnormally shaped feathers and overgrowth and irregularity of the surface of the beak. The disease occurs in a number of psittacine species including the Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Lovebirds , Budgerigars and Galahs . The abnormal appearance of feathers and beak is due to a dystrophic process within the epidermis of the feather and beak. The process consists of epidermal cell necrosis, epidermal hyperplasia and hyperkeratosis. Many of the feather abnormalities are due to retention of a hyperkeratotic feather sheath. A characteristic microscopic finding is the presence of macrophages containing purple intracytoplasmic inclusions in affected epidermis and feather pulp. The inclusions consist of aggregates of particles 17 to 22 nm in diameter. Similar but smaller inclusions occur in epidermal cells. In addition, non-suppurative inflammation occurs in the feather pulp. The findings are suggestive of a viral infection.

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