Logo Logo
Switch Language to German
Schmitz, A.; Korbel, R.; Thiel, S.; Wörle, B.; Gohl, C.; Rinder, M. (2018): High prevalence of Mycobacterium genavense within flocks of pet birds. In: Veterinary Microbiology, Vol. 218: pp. 40-44
Full text not available from 'Open Access LMU'.


Mycobacterium genavense is regarded as the primary cause of mycobacteriosis in psittaciform and passeriform birds, which are commonly kept as pets. In humans, Mycobacterium genavense is especially pathogenic for young, old, pregnant and immunocompromised people (YOPIs). In birds, only few studies, mainly case reports, exist and there is still little e information about occurrence and relevance of this zoonotic pathogen. In this first pilot study concerning the prevalence of Mycobacterium genavense within flocks of naturally infected pet birds, real-time PCR examinations of 170 individual passeriform and psittaciform birds, including commonly kept budgerigars, lovebirds and zebra finches as well as gold finches and weaver finches, were conducted to determine the infection rate in six different aviaries. Antemortem examinations of faeces and cloacal swabs were compared with postmortem examinations of tissue samples to evaluate the reliability of antemortem diagnostics. Additional ophthalmologic examinations were performed to evaluate their diagnostic potential. Molecular examinations for viral co-infections, including circovirus, polyomavirus and adenovirus, were conducted to identify potential risk factors. PCR results revealed a detection prevalence of Mycobacterium genavense in the flocks varying from 3% to 91% based on postmortem testing, while antemortem diagnostics of faecal samples and swabs showed 64% discrepant (false negative) results. Ophthalmologic examinations were not useful in identifying infected birds within the flocks. Viral co-infections, especially with polyomavirus, were common. It has to be assumed that Mycobacterium genavense infections are widespread and underdiagnosed in companion birds. Viral infections might be an important risk factor. There is urgent need to improve antemortem diagnostics.