Poster Presentation 64th International Conference of the Wildlife Disease Association 2015

Detection of Chlamydia psittaci and psittacine beak and feather disease virus in sympatric passerines and an invasive psittacine species (#164)

Anne Justice-Allen 1 , Barbara Bodenstein 2 , Robert Dusek 2 , Craig Levy 3 , Hayley Yaglom 4 , Laura Adams 5 , Paula Ciembor 6 , Branson Ritchie 6
  1. Arizona Game and Fish Department, Phoenix, Arizona, United States
  2. United States Geological Survey-National Wildlife Health Center, Madison, Wisconsin, United States
  3. Maricopa County Department of Public Health, Phoenix, Arizona, United States
  4. Office of Infectious Disease, Arizona Department of Health Services, Phoenix, Arizona, United States
  5. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Arizona Department of Health Services, Phoenix , Arizona, United States
  6. Infectious Diseases Laboratory, College of Veterinary Medicine-University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia, United States

Invasive species disrupt native ecosystems through consumption of resources, displacement of native species from habitat niches, and introduction of novel pathogens. Rosy-faced lovebirds (Agapornis roseicollis) have been observed in the Phoenix area for 25 years. In 2013, Chlamydia psittaci (CP) was identified in a mortality event of 20 lovebirds. In 2014, the Arizona Game and Fish Department received multiple reports of similar mortality events in lovebirds. Testing confirmed systemic CP infections in the affected birds. Due to concerns for spread to native species interacting with the lovebirds at feeders and potential public health risks, a live bird surveillance project was conducted. Swab samples were collected from 47 lovebirds and 143 psittacine birds captured at backyard feeders at 4 mortality and 2 control locations. Samples were screened for CP, and a viral infection of lovebirds, psittacine beak and feather disease (PBFD). Chlamydia psittaci and PBFD nucleic acids were detected in 94% (44/47) and 81% (38/47), respectively, of lovebirds at all sites. Detection of CP and PBFD DNA occurred more frequently in sympatric species sampled at mortality sites than control sites (CP: mortality 13% [14/108], control 3% [1/35]; PBFD: mortality 34% [37/108], control 9 % [3/35]). Chlamydia psittaci and PBFD DNA were more likely to be detected among rock doves (Columba livia, ORCP 72.1, 95% CI 11.8–440; ORPBFD 4.25, 95% CI 1.0–17.3) than other non-psittacine species. Although mortality of native species associated with these diseases has not been documented, such an event may be difficult to detect in a species that is less common or noticeable than lovebirds. Because PBFD causes immunosuppression, the co-infection of birds with PBFD and CP may increase the probability of a disease event in native birds. Investigation of population declines, mortality, and feather abnormalities in native birds in the area is warranted.