At the beginning of 2019, AAV approached its members to seek input on the most pressing disease concerns in captive avian populations. Based on the responses received, the following disease conditions were considered the most vexing:
Feather damaging behavior
Cardiovascular disease and atherosclerosis
Avian bornavirus infection and avian ganglioneuritis
As 2020 will mark its 40th anniversary, AAV has committed to raising $40,000 for one or multiple studies related to these 3 highly relevant clinical topics. A special funding campaign for this 2020 SOAR grant (Support our Avian Research) has recently commenced. With 100% of the leadership contributing, AAV has thus far raised $14,000, and received a pledge from Lafeber Company to grant up to $10,000 in matching funds for every donation received from the membership and general public.
Feather damaging behavior has mild, moderate, or severe presentations. Mild picking may manifest as chewing on a few feathers or wing tips, while moderate cases involve plucking and removing feathers. The worst form is termed "Mutilation Syndrome," where birds actually inflict wounds on their skin muscle possibly causing life-threatening situations such as bleeding, nerve or muscle damage, and severe infections.
Atherosclerosis is the accumulation of plaques (fats, cholesterol, and inflammatory cells) within the arteries. The buildup of these plaques can limit the amount of blood flow throughout the body. Unfortunately, the cause of atherosclerosis is still poorly understood. Suggested risk factors include fatty diet (seed based), increased cholesterol, inactivity, infectious/inflammatory conditions and stress.
Image: Diagram illustrating normal arterial blood flow (A) and an artery containing plaque buildup (B). Image credit: NHLBI via Wikimedia Commons.
Avian Bornavirus Infection and Avian Ganglioneuritis
PDD, which is short for Proventricular Dilatation Disease, causes regurgitation, weight loss, and death in macaws and other parrots. This condition has recently been linked with a poorly understood virus known as bornavirus. Bornavirus has been linked with feather-plucking, toe-tapping, and other conditions in parrots.
Image: Radiographic evidence of proventricular dilatation, Photo by: Sharman Hoppes, DVM, DABVP (Avian Practice), Professor Emerita, Texas A&M University
AAV is currently seeking additional sponsors to partner with our association to raise these funds. To date, AAV has nearly $30,000 in funds committed to the SOAR grant. This includes a generous funding match agreement for donations up to $10,000 from Lafeber. AAV is highly committed to ensuring this goal is reached with 100% of the leadership already contributing. Tax deductible contributions for the 40th Anniversary Support of Avian Research (SOAR) fund can be made by clicking the Donate Now button below. Organizations interested in partnering or sponsoring this effort should contact Dr. Robert Groskin, AAV Executive Director at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Beginning in December 2019, AAV will solicit research proposals aiming to advance knowledge of avian medicine with a preference for one or more of these three identified areas. Being able to provide the profession with meaningful research toward solutions to these challenging problems will no doubt result in major advances in clinical avian medicine. Check back soon for more information.
About AAV Research Grants
The Association of Avian Veterinarians is a diverse global professional organization dedicated to advancing and promoting avian health, welfare, and conservation through education, advocacy, and science. AAV provides educational and research grant opportunities to avian veterinarians worldwide. Since its founding in 1980, the AAV has funded clinical, investigational, and conservation medicine research grants for companion birds as well as free-ranging and managed bird populations, with over $600,000 awarded to more than 75 projects. Previous grant awards can be found at https://www.aav.org/page/grant_recipients.
With the help of these grants, researchers across the world have been able to complete projects that have not only significantly advanced the clinical knowledge of the veterinary profession, but also have – directly or indirectly – impacted the well-being and health of a multitude of avian species.
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