Psittacine Pruritic Polyfolliculitis (PPPF)
or "Stress Dermatitis"
1. What is PPPF?
PPPF is a term used for the appearance of multiple feathers growing out of the same feather follicle. It is suspected to be caused by a virus though this has still not been confirmed.
2. How is the disease transmitted from bird to bird?
It is unknown how it is passed from bird to bird. Often only one bird in a collection of birds will be affected at any one time.
3. What are the clinical signs of PPPF?
Usually feather loss and self–mutilation of the affected area are seen. The bird may make the skin bleed and even chew deep into the muscle. Birds with PPPF are usually undergoing some form of stress — either behavioural or disease related.
4. On which part of the body is PPPF found?
Polyfollicles are usually found on the neck, thigh and/or ventral (underneath) sides of the wing though they can be found on any part of the body.
5. In which birds is PPPF seen?
PPPF is very commonly seen in lovebirds (peachfaces), budgerigars and canaries. However, it can be found in any species including cockatiels, lorikeets and eclectus.
6. How is PPPF identified in a bird?
There are two feathers growing out of a single feather follicle. Occasionally three feathers are seen growing from one feather follicle. Some birds have removed all the multiple follicles and so only a wound is left leaving only the suspicion of polyfollicles. Biopsies do not reveal specific changes on histopathology. Reports have suggested it may be a herpes-like virus.
7. What is the treatment for PPPF?
There is no specific treatment for PPPF. The secondary infections need to be treated. A non-stressful environment combined with a balanced diet may help during the course of the dermatitis. Treatment may include tests to exclude other problems including Chlamydia, intestinal motile protozoa, Beak and Feather Disease, Polyomavirus, liver disease and lead poisoning. If all tests are negative, behaviour modifying drugs including Clomicalm and Haloperidol have been used with reasonable success.
Some single birds respond to being given a mate. However it is unclear how the disease is spread and so caution must be used when introducing another bird.
8. Will any birds fully recover?
Many birds will go through varying levels of recovery and may have repeat episodes. This is especially the case if the stress is behaviour induced.
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