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Occurrence of avian bornavirus infection in captive psittacines in various European countries and its association with proventricular dilatation disease.

Clinic for Birds, Reptiles, Amphibians and Fish, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Justus Liebig University Giessen, Frankfurter Strasse 91-93, D-35392, Giessen, Germany.
Avian Pathology (Impact Factor: 1.73). 08/2011; 40(4):419-26. DOI: 10.1080/03079457.2011.589825
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT A total of 1442 live birds and 73 dead birds out of 215 bird collections in Spain, Germany, Italy, the UK and Denmark were tested for avian bornavirus (ABV) infection by four different methods. The majority of the birds were psittacines belonging to 54 different genera of the order Psittaciformes. In total, 22.8% of the birds reacted positive for ABV in at least one of the tests. Combined testing of swabs from the crop and cloaca, and serum for the diagnosis of ABV infection in live birds revealed that virus shedding and antibody production coincided in only one-fifth of the positive birds so that the examination of these three samples is recommended for reliable ABV diagnosis. By statistical analysis of this large number of samples, the ABV infection proved to be highly significant (P <0.001) associated with histopathologically confirmed proventricular dilatation disease (PDD) in dead birds as well as with clinically assumed PDD in live birds. However, ABV infection was also detected in psittacines without pathological lesions or clinical signs of PDD. Twelve non-psittacine birds belonging to the genera Aburria, Ciconia, Geopelia, Leucopsar and Pavo were tested negative for ABV infection. Within the order of Psittaciformes, birds belonging to 33 different genera reacted positive for ABV. In 16 of these psittacine genera, the ABV infection was demonstrated for the first time. The present study emphasizes the widespread occurrence of clinically variable ABV infections in Europe by analysing a large number of specimens from a broad range of bird species in several assays.

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    ABSTRACT: TO THE EDITOR: Proventricular dilatation disease (PDD) is a fatal disease in psittacines that jeopardizes critical species conservation projects, such as that involving the Spix's macaw (Cyanopsitta spixii), the world's most endangered bird species (1). The disease is characterized by lymphoplasmacytic infiltrations in the enteric and central nervous systems (2). Consequently, gastrointestinal and neurologic disorders are the major clinical manifestations. Only recently has the cause of the disease been identified by characterization of a newly discovered member of the family Bornaviridae, the avian bornavirus (ABV), which has been detected in affected psittacines (3,4). The relationship of an infection with ABV and the occurrence of PDD has been described in natural cases (5,6) and in experimental trials (7,8). However, birds that are infected with ABV but that are clinically healthy have also been recognized (6). Infected birds can shed viral RNA intermittently (9), and not all infected birds seroconvert (5). For psittacine flock management, control of an AΒV infection is critical, e.g., by repeated testing of breeding stock and removal of ABV-positive birds (2,5). However, in breeding projects of rare species, every individual is genetically important and cannot be lost. Therefore, pairing infected, but clinically healthy, birds separately from birds that test negative for the virus might represent an option. For this possibility to be viable, whether vertical transmission of ABV can take place must be further clarified. A study investigating the distribution of ABV in tissues of PDD-positive birds has demonstrated ABV antigen in follicular cells, which may point toward vertical transmission (9).
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