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Avian Pathol: Observations on detection, excretion and transmission of pigeon circovirus in adult, young and embryonic pigeons.

Infections with pigeon circovirus (PiCV) occur in young racing pigeons and pigeons raised for meat production, and have been reported worldwide, but relatively little is known about the disease induced by PiCV infection. The aim of this study was to investigate how PiCV is transmitted. Using a sensitive polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test, the presence of PiCV was investigated in a wide range of samples from adult pigeons, embryos, breeders, and young birds. The samples were derived from a racing loft that had a clinical history of "young pigeon sickness", and in which PiCV had been previously diagnosed. Using PCR, PiCV DNA was detected in tissues of 13/20 apparently healthy older birds, aged from 1-9 years. Viral DNA was most commonly detected in the respiratory organs, including the trachea, pharynx, and lung, followed by tissues such as the spleen, kidney, and liver. It was also detected in the ovary or testes of some birds. This finding, and the detection of viral DNA in tissues from 8/22 embryos, suggested that PiCV may be vertically transmitted. Testing of pharyngeal and cloacal swabs, and blood samples, collected immediately before the death of the adult pigeons, failed to detect all birds found to be infected at necropsy. This suggests that testing of potential breeding birds would not enable exclusion of infected birds from breeding programs. Additional PCR testing of cloacal swab samples obtained sequentially from 19 young pigeons showed that while 4 were excreting virus when 15 days old, only one bird was excreting at the time of weaning (28 days old). The detection of viral DNA in cloacal swab samples from 15.8% of the birds when 37 days old, and 100% of birds when 51 days old suggested that most young pigeons probably became infected in the rearing loft.

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Author:Duchatel, J.P.; Todd, D.; Smyth, J.A.
Publication:Journal of Avian Medicine and Surgery
Article Type:Reprint
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 1, 2006
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