Macaw Wasting Disease in Birds

By PetMD Editorial on Jul. 1, 2008

Avian Proventricular Dilatation Disease

Digestive disorders in birds are due to various reasons, including infection, low immunity and injury. One such digestive disorder in birds is the macaw wasting disease, or proventricular dilatation disease, which is due to a viral infection and can be fatal.

Despite its name, any pet bird can be infected with this disorder. Other birds who are susceptible to macaw wasting disease are cockatoos, conures, and African, Asian and Eclectus parrots.

Symptoms and Types

Proventricular dilatation disease affects the nerves of the stomach in the infected bird. The stomach stretches and loses the ability to contract normally.

The visible signs of the proventricular dilatation disease are: 

  • Increase in appetite followed by continuous weight loss
  • Undigested food in the droppings (i.e.,whole seeds are passed out)
  • Regurgitation of food

The macaw wasting disease is usually fatal. However, the rapidity of death depends on diagnosis and post-diagnosis care.


A contaminated environment or contact with an infected bird's droppings are both ways of contracting the proventricular dilatation disease.


Antiviral drugs do not help cure the infection, but a liquid diet may extend the bird's life. However, euthanasia is usually recommended by veterinarians.



The bird's environment should be regularly cleaned and disinfected. Also, all birds suspected of infection should be quarantined.

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