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

The globalization of parrot viruses as the result of the trade in wild caught parrots and its potential conservation implications (#73)

David Phalen 1
  1. University of Sydney, Camden, NSW, Australia

The global trade in wild caught parrots, although eventually curtailed in many countries by the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) and legislation in importing countries, resulted in over 4,500,000 wild-caught birds being imported into North America and the European Union (EU) from 1975 to 2011. Unknown numbers of captive bred parrots were also traded during this time and continue to be traded. Quarantine surveillance focussed on poultry pathogens whilst other diseases of parrots were largely ignored. By means of literature review, we identified a minimum of 15 viruses that had been introduced to North America, EU, Japan or Australia through this trade, 12 of which pose potential threats to aviculture, the poultry industry, and/or parrot conservation. We also found that anthropogenic factors, such as mixing of species, housing animals in close contact, and a disregard for basic biosecurity measures played a major role in the disease dissemination.  Key features of the viruses that did establish themselves in aviculture were their ability to subclinically and persistently infect many species of parrots.  Pressure continues from aviculturalists to allow limited trade in parrots to resume. One argument for allowing the resumption of the international trade of parrots is that diagnostic tests now exist that would allow the selection of pathogen-free parrots.  A review of current molecular based diagnostic technology showed that satisfactory tests do not exist for all of these viruses and due to this and on-going emergence and discovery of previously unrecognized viruses, we conclude that a resumption of the global parrot trade would be premature.