Texas A&M's new avian facility could help prevent bird diseases

By: Ian Smith


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COLLEGE STATION, Texas--Hundreds of birds now have a new place to call home in College Station.

The Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences formally opened its new avian health complex Thursday.

"This new complex, this splendid new complex, is both a teaching and a research center designed to maintain our position as the top veterinary school in the country," said Dr. Ian Tizard with the Schubot Exotic Bird Health Center.

The climate-controlled facility is the perfect place for students and birds to better understand one another.

"Studies on behavior, studies on nutrition, studies on vaccine safety," said Tizard.

"I'm learning about how they learn," said graduate student Constance Woodman.

"For example, if you want to take a bird and return it to the wild after it's been in captivity, for a conservation project, it has to develop a certain set of skills."

Researchers at the university have also developed a vaccine against a fatal virus that affects parrots.

"We've actually found that we can vaccinate them very effectively against this virus," said Tizard. "Our vaccine seems to work very well indeed."

The vaccine is in the process of being developed further so it can be readily available in the future. And it's something that could help when it comes to other diseases like bird flu.

"Obviously, anything that will improve our knowledge of the immune system of birds will contribute towards the development of other avian vaccines and including vaccines in the poultry industry," said Tizard.