Disease surveillance in wild Victorian cacatuids reveals co-infection with multiple agents and detection of novel avian viruses

Michelle Sutherland, S. Sarker, Paola K. Vaz, Alistair R. Legione, Joanne M. Devlin, Patricia L. Macwhirter, Pamela L. Whiteley, Shane R. Raidal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Wild birds are known reservoirs of bacterial and viral pathogens, some of which have zoonotic potential. This poses a risk to both avian and human health, since spillover into domestic bird populations may occur. In Victoria, wild-caught cockatoos trapped under licence routinely enter commercial trade. The circovirus Beak and Feather Disease Virus (BFDV), herpesviruses, adenoviruses and Chlamydia psittaci have been identified as significant pathogens of parrots globally, with impacts on both aviculture and the conservation efforts of endangered species. In this study, we describe the results of surveillance for psittacid herpesviruses (PsHVs), psittacine adenovirus (PsAdV), BFDV and C. psittaci in wild cacatuids in Victoria, Australia. Samples were collected from 55 birds of four species, and tested using genus or family-wide polymerase chain reaction methods coupled with sequencing and phylogenetic analyses for detection and identification of known and novel pathogens. There were no clinically observed signs of illness in most of the live birds in this study (96.3%; n = 53). Beak and Feather Disease Virus was detected with a prevalence of 69.6% (95% CI 55.2–80.9). Low prevalences of PsHV (1.81%; 95% CI 0.3–9.6), PsAdV (1.81%; 95% CI 0.3–9.6), and C. psittaci (1.81%; 95% CI 0.3–9.6) was detected. Importantly, a novel avian alphaherpesvirus and a novel avian adenovirus were detected in a little corella (Cacatua sanguinea) co-infected with BFDV and C. psittaci. The presence of multiple potential pathogens detected in a single bird presents an example of the ease with which such infectious agents may enter the pet trade and how novel viruses circulating in wild populations have the potential for transmission into captive birds. Genomic identification of previously undescribed avian viruses is important to further our understanding of their epidemiology, facilitating management of biosecurity aspects of the domestic and international bird trade, and conservation efforts of vulnerable species.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)257-264
Number of pages8
JournalVeterinary Microbiology
Early online date18 Jul 2019
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2019


Dive into the research topics of 'Disease surveillance in wild Victorian cacatuids reveals co-infection with multiple agents and detection of novel avian viruses'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this