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Host Range Of Mycoplasma Gallisepticum In Eastern North America
Mycoplasma gallisepticum, an avian pathogen most common in poultry, was first detected in wild songbirds in 1994, primarily infecting house finches (Carpodacus mexicanus) in which it can cause severe eye lesions. Recent studies have revealed that M. gallisepticum can infect a greater diversity of avian hosts. Our study attempts to determine the host range of M. gallisepticum in a bird community in Tompkins County, New York (USA). This research was conducted between January 2007 and June 2010 as part of a larger M. gallisepticum investigation. We tested to what extent bird taxonomic affiliation, and seasonal presence influenced the likelihood of being infected. Birds were trapped opportunistically at bird feeders and inspected visually for conjunctivitis. Conjunctival swabs were tested for the presence of M. gallisepticum DNA using polymerase chain reaction (PCR); blood samples were tested for the presence of M. gallisepticum-specific antibodies using rapid plate agglutination (RPA). The 1,989 individuals sampled comprised 53 species from 19 avian families. We documented evidence of M. gallisepticum infection in 27 species from 15 avian families. Overall, 37/1989 (1.9%) of the individuals showed visible signs of conjunctivitis, with 77/1989 (3.9%) testing positive for M. gallisepticum via PCR, and 72/1989 (3.6%) testing positive for M. gallisepticum antibodies via RPA. Overall, 58/1056 (5.5%) fringillids tested positive via PCR, with 40/331 (12.1%) positive results from house finches specifically, and 18/933 (1.9%) from nonfringillids generally. We found positive PCR and RPA results in 11 species of migratory birds, and no evidence of M. gallisepticum infection in 26 of the species sampled (n=57). Successful isolates of the bacteria were made from seven field samples. When combining the results from this study with previous research, there is evidence of M. gallisepticum infection in 42 bird species.
Carpodacus mexicanus; Mycoplasma gallisepticum; Conjunctivitis
Dhondt, Andre Alfons
Lovette, John I
M.S. of Ecology
Master of Science
dissertation or thesis