A new stomach virus threatens the existence of rare orange-bellied Australian parrot species in captive breeding program. The virus reduces the immunity of the bird and the birds start losing its feathers.

It spreads quickly among the birds as they stay close to each other in the shelter. "Infections just find it easier to spread from one bird to another," said Shane Radial, a veterinary professor with Charles Sturt University.

There is no official information on the type of the infection or condition of the birds. It can be avian influenza or proventricular dilatation. Viral attacks in the captive breeding program were reported in 2005, 2006 and 1991 which killed 43 birds.

At present, there are only around 250 orange-bellied Australian parrots. In that 160-170 of them remain in the captive breeding programs. There are three captive breeding programs in Australia. One is at the Adelaide Zoo, the other at Taroona Island in Tasmania and the third in the Healesville Sanctuary. But, there is no information about the program is hit by the virus.

Australian orange-bellied parrot was a native of Australia and Tasmania. The human interference and introduction of foreign weeds and animals pushed it to the verge of extinction. In 2006, under Australian Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act it was listed endangered species. The captive breeding program was introduced after 2006.