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Unusual and severe lesions of proventricular dilatation disease in cockatiels (Nymphicus hollandicus) acting as healthy carriers of avian bornavirus (ABV) and subsequently infected with a virulent strain of ABV

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A flock of 14 apparently healthy cockatiels, purchased from a single aviary, was tested for the presence of avian bornavirus (ABV). Twelve birds were found to be intermittently shedding ABV, predominantly genotype 4. Four of the cockatiels known to be shedding ABV4 were subsequently challenged with the tissue culture derived, virulent M24 strain of ABV4. The challenged birds remained in apparent good health until day 92 when one was found dead. The remaining three birds began to exhibit severe neurologic signs, ataxia and convulsions on day 110 and were euthanized. On necropsy, all four birds showed mild proventricular enlargement. In contrast, histopathological examination showed unusually severe and widespread tissue lesions. These included massive lymphocytic infiltration and lymphoid nodule formation within and around the ganglia throughout the gastrointestinal tract. There were similar lesions in the medullary cords of the adrenal gland, heart, spleen, liver, kidney, lungs, pancreas, testes and ovary. Immunohistochemistry demonstrated ABV P antigen not only in the cells of the central and autonomic nervous systems, but also within the mononuclear cells infiltrating the various organs. Two healthy cockatiels, one of which was a known ABV carrier, were inoculated with uninfected tissue culture cells and euthanized on day 150. These birds showed no gross lesions of proventricular dilatation disease but had a mild lymphocytic infiltration in their liver, spleen, and kidneys. Prior infection with ABV did not therefore confer significant immunity on these birds, and may have resulted in increased disease severity following challenge.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Veterinary Pathobiology, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX, USA 2: California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory System, Tulare, University of California-Davis, California, USA 3: Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas, USA 4: Department of Pathobiology, University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna, Austria

Publication date: February 1, 2011

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