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Experimental infection of domestic canaries (Serinus canaria domestica) with Mycoplasma gallisepticum: a new model system for a wildlife disease

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The ethical and logistical challenges inherent in experimental infections of wild-caught animals present a key limitation to the study of wildlife diseases. Here we characterize a potentially useful domestic model for a wildlife disease that has been of particular interest in recent decades; that is, infection of North American house finches (Carpodacus mexicanus) with Mycoplasma gallisepticum, more commonly known as a worldwide poultry pathogen. Seven domestic canaries (Serinus canaria domestica) were infected experimentally with M. gallisepticum alongside two wild-caught house finches (C. mexicanus) and the resulting clinical disease, pathogen load, serology and pathology were compared. Although rates of morbidity were higher in domestic canaries in response to M. gallisepticum infection, no significant differences were detected between the two species in the four measures of infection and disease studied. Our results support previous field and experimental studies that have documented universal susceptibility to M. gallisepticum infection in the avian family Fringillidae, which includes domestic canaries. Our results also indicate that domestic canaries may serve as a potentially useful model system for the experimental study of M. gallisepticum infection in songbirds.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Biology, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA, USA 2: Department of Microbiology and Immunology, College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, USA 3: Department of Pathobiology and Veterinary Science, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT, USA 4: Department of Population Health and Pathobiology, College of Veterinary Medicine, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC, USA

Publication date: June 1, 2011

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