Black Headed Caique Loosing Balance

Michael Reynolds

Regular Member
If it is a problem with the tendon it can take a while to get better, this may make him unsure when using the leg, it dose not look like a balance problem.


Regular Member
Latest update he is sleeping quite a lot. Bloods looked normal so no ideas. I thought perhaps calcium level but that's normal the vet says


Staff member
I'm about 90% sure that wooden toy in the cage video has lead based paint, where did you get it from, and do you have a testing kit? heavy metals tend to deposit in joints but I'm not sure if bloodwork wouldn't pick it up.


Regular Member
I can’t remember to be honest, all our parrot toys are purchased from pet shops or parrot shows. We also had tests on lead and metal poising but they all came back negative. I can remove the toy just to be sure.


Regular Member
Just an update he is going in for further tests, all metal poising tests negative, bloods normal so bit of a bit odd. The vet said looks neurological loosing balance really strange,


Regular Member
Just an update he has the Borna virus. Hence his balance issues I’ll have to get my other 6 parrots tested not sure what I can do to help hi, been told Celebrex is not really effective


Staff member
OMG! That's devastating news :(
First quarantine your little one away from your other birds. I have no experience of the disease so all I can tell you is what I have read and say follow bio security guides for your birds and also no contact for you with anybody else's birds.
They say its transmissible with direct interactive contact such as feeding each other.
Everything needs scrubbing down all faecal matter needs cleaned away and bagged up use different cloths / scrubbers etc to clean each of the cages and each bird needs to be tested. If clear they get quarantined into another room if positive they can go into the room with your little one, dividing the flock into carriers and none carriers of the virus.
Your little ones diet needs to be changed to a high protein diet to support your bird and let it get as much nutrition as possible from what is consumed.

From now on you have to ensure that none of your flock come in to contact with each other nor any other bird outside of your flock like friends birds etc, bio security until everybody is tested and there after is going to be needed.

Will tag some other people in who may have some helpful information they can share.
@CaptainHowdy @TomsMum @Roz


Staff member
Side line thought in case just this one of your birds has the virus and you know where your bird came from either breeder or pet shop etc make sure that they are made aware best thing that could happen is that the source of the virus is found and that is stopped from spreading further.


Staff member
Thinking about it over a fast cup of coffee … we don't know if the caique is the source of the virus with you having other birds unless they were all thoroughly disease tested and were negative prior to arrival to your home ….. logic should say the source could be another bird in the flock unless everybody else tests negative….

Oooo forgot some other peeps that may have some helpful advice to share @marley @sunnyring

Must ensure we find you a specific disinfectant to use to kill off the virus mammalian form of the virus is killed by chlorine based products BUT that is mammalian and we're talking birds..... You handle healthy birds first and then you handle / interact with the ones that are carriers. You wash your hands with alcohol based product so lots of those squidgy bottles you can get at the checkout at the superstore for now to ensure you don't inadvertently spread it to other members of the flock


I will say this and please excuse me for saying it I do not mean to be harsh nor cruel nor unfeeling I could not imagine the heartbreak your having but there could be a very hard decision to be made in the near future if all are negative but the little caique for the sake of the entire flock and if the little one is going down hill fast …..


Regular Member
Thanks everyone for the posts its bee a really hard week. Lucky he is in different room to the other birds but there are still risks. We have a rescue cockatoo and an African grey more recently from a breeder so we are getting them tested first. The African grey feathers always look a bit tatty put he is fine otherwise. The cockatoo we had no history from so perhaps from him. We also have two senegals and two conure but had them for years before. Yes nightmare we give our parrots the best food and spend what ever is needed at the vets but its not enough here. Whats best to use to clean f10 is no good?


Staff member
Sorry to hear all of this, what a to do and a worry.
Apart fromF10 I am unsure what to suggest,but I am sure others will be along with good advice.


Regular Member
So sorry to hear this, vwbug. I attended a live webinar with Dr Todd Driggers in February about ABV. He said that lateral transmission is very unlikely since the virus dies so quickly when exposed to air. It is very likely the virus is transmitted vertically - ie. from overy/testes to the egg (baby). So no reason why you should isolate your bird, but just don't allow physical contact to be on the safe side. There is no cure currently, but the main thing is not to stimulate your bird sexually as the virus becomes active. There are drugs to control pain and inflammation. Controlling inflammation is the big one. Look into foods that are anti-inflammatory. These are fresh fruit and veg, Omega 3 (freshly ground flaxseed or oil, walnuts), turmeric, etc. Concentrate too on building the immune system with good food, low stress etc. since birds with a good immune system don't present clinical signs.

Here are my notes from the talk:
Avian Bornaviral Ganglioneuritis (Dr Todd Driggers talk 8/2/2019)

There are a lot of new advances re ABV eg. Testing for clinical disease rather than testing for positive status only.

Viral positive status does not = clinical disease.

Clinical signs associated are central nervous system issues, sensory, brain and spinal cord.

As many as one in three parrots will test positive for the RNA virus. They don’t live outside the body for long – just a few minutes. RNA viruses die very quickly. Air kills the virus. Even if the bird has the RNA virus not all of them go on to develop PDD. There is a stigma associated with having a bird test positive for the RNA virus. This shouldn’t be.

Bornavirus Vs. Inflammation
It is inflammation that actually causes the disease. Until 3 months ago they did not have the test to differentiate positive test vs. disease.

Parrots, canaries, raptors can be affected. We are most familiar with parrots.

First test – specific question – is the virus present?
Yes, positive status
Second test – Anti Avian Glycoside test – this will determine whether the nerve sheath is broken. Nerves are surrounded in a protective sheath (like electric wires inside a plastic cord). When that sheath is damaged (the plastic cord) it exposes Anti Avian Glycoside proteins. The AAG test is looking for antibodies.
Wherever the nerve damage is located will affect that particular part of the body. The Vagus nerve is the biggest nerve and affects the right side of the heart and the digestive tract. Heart attack, GI problems.
ABV is possibly not the only virus that damages the nerve sheath and exposes the nerve.

Is there active clinical disease?
Has the nerve been damaged?
Is the body mounting an immune attack?

Specific treatment is targeted at controlling inflammation. It is the inflammation that causes the disease (PDD) not the virus.

Transmission can occur from bird to bird. Especially via vertical transmission, ie. mum and dad parrots to the baby… through testes/ovary to the egg. A bird is likely viral positive since hatched. The virus becomes clinical when the bird reproduces.
Lateral (normal contact ie. not sexual) transmission is very unlikely.
Direct access may be dangerous, but birds can certainly share the same room.

Gave 20 cockatiels cleaned ABV virus orally. None developed the virus.
Injected 20 cockatiels with the virus. They all developed the virus.

Lateral – very unlikely
Vertical – very likely

Stimulating the parrot sexually, can activate the virus.
Do NOT sexually stimulate our birds ie. When hands make promises the body cannot keep, like stroking the bird, etc.
Redirect behaviour.
Stimulate the brain not the reproductive system.
What is the best life for our birds?
Pair bonding with a human = disaster.

ABV positive, but Glycoside negative
Avoid inflammation
Nesting/pair bonding can stimulate the virus into becoming clinical. Important to know what time of year the bird becomes hormonal, aggression issues, nesting. Mitigate the risk factors – food, lighting, melatonin etc
Allo feeding between birds – reproductive stimulating each other to activate the virus
Need both tests to find out the status

Difficult to have false positives – more common to have false negatives
Many people do not test for ABV – this is like having a ticking time bomb.

New world birds mostly present with GI signs
GI disease – signs will be regurgitating, vomiting, diarrhea
Nerve dysfunction in the crop = regurgitation
(Regurgitation – when you are around? Sexual. All the time? True medical issue.)
Nerve dysfunction in the stomach = vomiting

Old world birds mostly present with neural signs – central nervous system, seizures, blindness, falling off perches.

But there is lots of cross over.
Attack of the sensory nervous system can result in Feather Destructive Behaviour.
Eclectus is the poster child for getting the virus. The toe tapping issues, etc. may well be caused by the virus rather than food.

If you have a bird with bacterial overgrowth, fungal overgrowth, etc, you may want to rule out ABV.

There are drugs to control inflammation and pain (see Dr Driggers’ hand out).

It’s not a matter of having the virus; it’s about controlling the inflammation. If you wait too long until the clinical signs present, the vet may not be able to help.

Texas AVM is currently working on a vaccine but there is a lot of variability in the virus.
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