MDS offers molecular tests for a wide range of avian pathogens, as well as gender determination (DNA sexing).

Avian pathogens

Birds are susceptible to a number of diseases. For effective management of these diseases in an aviary, it is beneficial to know whether any new birds being introduced into the aviary are infected or are disease free. In many cases birds appear healthy, but they could be carriers of disease that could infect other birds. Some of the pathogen tests offered are:

  • Avian bornavirus
  • Avian polyoma virus
  • Chlamydiaceae species
  • Pachecos disease virus
  • Pigeon circovirus
  • Psittacine beak and feather disease virus

Avian DNA Sexing (SANAS accredited)

For successful breeding purposes or curiosity, the gender of a bird is required. The Avian DNA sexing test offered at MDS targets the sex chromosomes of a bird to determine whether the bird is male or female. Our test is both sensitive and specific and can be performed from the first day after hatching.

We have multiple Avian DNA sexing assays to assist us to accurately sex the thousands of avian species in the world today. It is therefore important to indicate the species of the bird being tested for DNA sexing so that the correct assay for that species is used.

Collection Kit

Although it is possible to use blood or tissue for testing, our preferred sample is a drop of blood collected using our sample collection kits, as the samples are stable and the risk of contamination is reduced. The sampling procedure is simple, non-invasive and can be performed at the site where the animal is located. The kit consists of a sterile tube containing a strip of specimen collection paper and a sterile needle. A small volume of blood blotted onto the collection paper is all that is needed to perform the molecular tests. Multiple tests can be performed on the same sample.

Kits can be ordered directly from MDS.


  • No risk of trauma from anaesthesia or surgical complications.
  • The bird does not have to be mature to be tested.
  • The bird does not have to be transported as a sample can easily be taken by the owner.
  • No special storage conditions are required once the sample has been taken.
  • The test is rapid and results can be faxed or emailed within 2 working days of receipt of the sample at the laboratory.
  • MDS also has an interactive online vetsite where clients can confidentially track their submitted samples and access their results.
  • Current and historic results (from 2014-onwards) can be accessed from the online vetsite.
  • A certificate can be supplied on request.
  • Possibility of more than one test being performed on the same sample.

Sample Collection

  1. Hold the bird comfortably so that you can access the bird’s toe.
  2. Remove the new sterile needle and prick the bird’s toe just above the claw, not the claw itself. After a few seconds a visible drop of blood should appear. Fig1
  3. Open the lid of the small tube and remove the white strip of specimen collection paper (always hold the part that is sticking out of the tube). Fig 2
  4. Press the marked tip of the paper against the fresh drop of blood. An ideal sample would fill the area below the marked line at the bottom of the paper. Too little sample may result in insufficient DNA to obtain a result.
  5. Insert the paper into the tube, with blood first. Never touch the marked tip with your fingers! Close the tube firmly. Please discard needle / lancet safely – do not return to MDS.
  6. Write the bird’s name and ring number onto the tube’s label and then log your sample onto our secure online vetsite http://vetsite.mdsafrica.net. If you are unable to print your test request, please send the RN number with your submission to link your samples to your order.
  7. Place the tubes and data sheet into an addressed padded envelope marked FRAGILE and post with payment.
  8. Please post to MDS or arrange with MDS for courier collection.


You will receive your results via e-mail within two working days of the MDS laboratory receiving your samples. Certificates for individual birds can be supplied on request at an additional charge

New tests

As the laboratory is continuously developing new tests, please access our website or contact us should you require a test not listed on our current request form.

Limitations of the test:

The molecular tests performed by MDS target the genetic material of the pathogen tested. The tests are sensitive and specific however they only determine the presence or absence of the viral or bacterial genetic material in the sample tested at the level of sensitivity of the test. This information can be used to support a clinical diagnosis however it should not be used as a diagnostic test on its own.


  1. In the event that Molecular Diagnostic Services (Pty) Ltd (MDS) returns a verifiable erroneous result for a particular sample, or if negligence is proven on the part of MDS, any claim against MDS is limited to the amount paid or to te paid to perform the test in question. In no event shall MDS be liable for direct/indirect incidental, consequential, special or other damages of any nature even if MDS has been advised of the possibility of such damage.
  2. Needles are inherently dangerous and because this product is used outside of our control, MDS will NOT be liable for any damages or injury caused by needles, the user accepting full responsibility for the use and safe disposal of the needles, which are entirely at the user’s risk. We realize the importance of confidentiality in the service we provide and undertake to abide by our Privacy Policy. For further information about our Privacy Policy, please contact our office or visit our website mdsafrica.net