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Clinical beak and feather disease virus infection in wild juvenile eastern rosellas of New Zealand; biosecurity implications for wildlife care facilities

Jackson, B, Harvey, C, Galbraith, J, Robertson, M, Warren, K, Holyoake, C, Julian, L, Varsani, A
New Zealand veterinary journal 2014 v.62 no.5 pp. 297-301
Beak and feather disease virus, biosecurity, blood, disinfection, euthanasia, feathers, genome, histopathology, inclusion bodies, juveniles, parrots, polymerase chain reaction, quarantine, risk, tail, wildlife, New Zealand
CASE HISTORY: Four juvenile eastern rosellas (Platycercus eximius) were admitted to two separate wildlife care facilities in the Auckland region by members of the public. They had missing or dystrophic wing and tail feathers that rendered them flightless, suggestive of beak and feather disease virus (BFDV) infection. Two were subject to euthanasia after failing to re-grow their feathers, with samples taken for histopathology and PCR analysis. Blood samples were obtained from the other two birds at the time of examination, however these individuals were lost to follow up. PATHOLOGICAL AND MOLECULAR FINDINGS: Basophilic inclusion bodies were observed in histological sections of the feather bulb, typical of BFDV infection, from the two euthanised individuals. Blood from all four birds tested positive by PCR for BFDV, and analysis of the recovered full BFDV genomes identified them as belonging to the BFDV-A strain. DIAGNOSIS: Beak and feather disease virus infection. CLINICAL RELEVANCE: This report highlights the clinical impacts of BFDV in juvenile eastern rosellas that may result in their admission to wildlife care facilities, creating a biosecurity risk in institutions that may host other native parrots intended for release. The environmental stability of BFDV and resistance to disinfection requires strict quarantine procedures to prevent contamination and spread within a facility. It is recommended that high-risk species such as wild eastern rosella be excluded from facilities that may also house native parrots.