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Avian mycobacteriosis in captive brolgas (Antigone rubicunda)

Hodge, PJ, Sandy, JR, Noormohammadi, AH
Australian veterinary journal 2019 v.97 no.3 pp. 81-86
Mycobacterium avium, air sacs, animal tissues, birds, body condition, breeding programs, gastrointestinal system, granuloma, histology, humans, liver, mycobacterial diseases, necropsy, spleen, wildlife
CASE SERIES: Avian mycobacteriosis is a significant disease of a wide range of bird species worldwide. The most common causative agent, Mycobacterium avium, is reported to also infect a range of mammals, including humans. Of 11 brolgas (Antigone rubicunda) submitted to the University of Melbourne for postmortem examination over a 10‐year period, 7 were diagnosed with mycobacteriosis. All were from a wildlife park and kept in permanent enclosures as part of a breeding program. Most of the brolgas with mycobacteriosis were in poor body condition and had widely disseminated granulomas throughout the body, especially within the liver, spleen and gastrointestinal tract. Respiratory tract involvement was common, with all disseminated cases having pulmonary or air sac granulomas. Rare to moderate numbers of acid‐fast organisms were detected in granulomas by histological examination. Where examined by appropriate bacteriological examinations, M. avium complex was isolated from affected tissues. CONCLUSION: This case series is the first known report of mycobacteriosis in brolgas and highlights the pathological changes seen. The complications in maintaining an avian mycobacteriosis‐free breeding program and in eradication of the disease from an enclosed wildlife environment are discussed.