Cases of mycoplasmosis in wild passerines birds in feeders: The infection is confirmed

Photo: American goldfinch showing marked conjunctivitis most likely associated with Mycoplasma gallisepticum infection (mycoplasmosis). This bird died after a collision with a tree (presumably secondary to vision loss). Photo credit: Carole Garceau.

During the month of February we received several mentions from bird watchers reporting birds with eye lesions in southern Quebec. The clinical presentation observed in the pictures provided by observers is highly suggestive of mycoplasmosis.

We received a severely affected house finch that was found in Laval on February 15th. The postmortem examination carried out on this bird confirmed our suspicion. Histological lesions characteristic of mycoplasmosis, including infiltration of the conjunctival and airways mucosa by a large number of lymphoid inflammatory cells, were observed, and Mycoplasma gallisepticum was detected from a conjunctival swab by molecular method (PCR).

This diagnosis allows us to confirm the presence of an epidemic of mycoplasmosis in the birds frequenting feeders in southern Quebec. As of February 21, a dozen episodes have been reported in the regions of Montreal (including Laval, Deux-Montagnes and Longueuil), Drummondville, Quebec (including Lévis) and Sherbrooke. For now, this disease has been observed in three species of passerine birds: the American goldfinch (7 episodes), the house finch (5 episodes), the red cardinal (2 episodes) and the snow bunting (1 episode).

For more information on this condition see the previous blog (http://blog.healthywildlife.ca/suspected-cases-mycoplasmosis-wild-passerine-birds/).

Report any sick or dead birds to the Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative. Find your closest regional centre at: http://www.cwhc-rcsf.ca

Stéphane Lair, CWHC – Quebec

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