Herpesvirus Infection in Birds


PetMD Editorial

Updated Aug. 11, 2022

Herpesvirus is not only a human virus; it can just as easily infect the birds, too. In birds, herpesvirus infections can cause a variety of diseases, including those can be fatal to the animal.

Symptoms and Types

Pacheco’s disease is a deadly herpesvirus infection in birds. It causes multi-organ failure and usually is fatal. Birds can be treated with Acyclovir. But those that survive have lifelong problems due to massive organ damage. Symptoms may or may not appear in birds afflicted with Pacheco’s disease.

Papilloma is a warty growth on the legs of the infected birds. This is another disease cause by a herpesvirus infection. It usually appears in Cacatua species of birds. Another type of the papilloma disease can cause a loss of color in the macaws’ feet.

Yet another form papilloma growth is seen in internal organs. These are also due to herpesvirus infection. It is seen in birds of the parrot family, notably the green-wing macaws and Amazon parrots. A not very common herpesvirus infection is Amazon tracheitis, which results in an inflammation of the trachea. It is a respiratory tract infection and the infected birds display severe difficulty breathing.


The veterinarian will diagnose and medicate the bird according to the type of herpesvirus. Some herpesvirus infections, like Pacheco’s disease, damage the organs to such an extent, that the effects of the organ damage continue even after the bird is cured of the herpesvirus infection.

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