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An epizootic of avian pox in endemic short-toed larks (Calandrella rufescens) and Berthelot's pipits (Anthus berthelotti) in the Canary Islands, Spain

AuthorsSmits, Judit E.G.; Tella, José Luis ; Carrete, Martina ; Serrano, David ; López, Guillermo
Issue Date2005
PublisherSage Publications
CitationVeterinary Pathology 42: 59- 65 (2005)
AbstractBetween January 2002 and November 2003, 50% (n = 395) of short-toed larks (Calandrella rufescens) and 28% (n = 139) of Berthelot's pipits (Anthus berthelotti) examined on the islands of Fuerteventura and Lanzarote, Canary Islands, had gross lesions compatible with avian pox. However, Spanish sparrows (Passer hispaniolensis, n = 128) and trumpeter finches (Bucanetes githagineus, n = 228), which inhabit the same steppe habitats associated with goat husbandry, did not have poxlike lesions. Histopathology and electron microscopy confirmed poxvirus in the lesions, whereas serology using standard, fowl poxvirus- and pigeon poxvirus-based diagnostic agar gel immunodiffusion techniques was negative, likely because of the limited (74.6% pipit; 74.9% lark) similarity between the viruses in our species and fowlpox virus on which the serologic tests rely. On the basis of polymerase chain reaction analyses, the virus isolated from dried lesions of C. rufescens has 80.5% similarity with the virus isolated from A. berthelotti and 91.3% similarity with canarypox, whereas A. berthelotti poxvirus has only 80% similarity with canarypox. We have two distinct and possibly new avian poxviruses. Both poultry and the wild birds on the farms were heavily infested by fleas, which may have acted as vectors in transmission of poxvirus. Disease prevalence in these Canary Island passerines is higher than that described in song birds in Hawaii that are now threatened, endangered, or extinct. Environmental and biological factors contributing to increased disease susceptibility of these isolated populations must be investigated.
Identifiersdoi: 10.1354/vp.42-1-59
issn: 0300-9858
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