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J Wildl Dis.: Relatively high prevalence of pox-like lesions in Henslow's sparrow (Ammodrammus henslowii) among nine species of migratory grassland passerines in Wisconsin, USA.

Globally, Avipoxvirus species affect over 230 species of wild birds and can significantly impair survival. During banding of 9 grassland songbird species (n = 346 individuals) in southwestern Wisconsin, USA, we noted species with a 2%-6% prevalence of pox-like lesions (possible evidence of current infection) and 4%-10% missing digits (potential evidence of past infection). These prevalences approach those recorded among island endemic birds (4% 9% and 9%-20% for the Galapagos and Hawaii, respectively) for which Avipoxvirus species have been implicated as contributing to dramatic population declines. Henslow's sparrow Ammodramus henslowii (n = 165 individuals) had the highest prevalence of lesions (6.1%) and missing digits (9.7%). Among a subset of 26 Henslow's sparrows from which blood samples were obtained, none had detectable antibody reactive to fowlpox virus antigen. However, 4 samples (18%) had antibody to canarypox virus antigen with test sample and negative control ratios (P/N values) ranging from 2.4 to 6.5 (median 4.3). Of 4 antibody-positive birds, 2 had lesions recorded (one was also missing a digit), one had digits missing, and one had no signs. Additionally, the birds with lesions or missing digits had higher P/N values than did the antibody-positive bird without missing digits or recorded lesions. This study represents an impetus for considering the impacts and dynamics of disease caused by Avipoxvirus among North American grassland bird species.


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Author:Ellison, K.S.; Hofmeister, E.K.; Ribic, C.A.
Publication:Journal of Avian Medicine and Surgery
Article Type:Reprint
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 1, 2014
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