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Sa-ardta, Phirawich; Rinder, Monika; Sanyathitiseree, Pornchai; Weerakhun, Sompoth; Lertwatcharasarakul, Preeda; Lorsunyaluck, Benchapol; Schmitz, Anna and Korbel, Rüdiger (2019): First detection and characterization of Psittaciform bornaviruses in naturally infected and diseased birds in Thailand. In: Veterinary Microbiology, Vol. 230: pp. 62-71

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In Thailand a proventricular dilation disease (PDD)-like syndrome commonly occurs in captive psittacine birds. The etiology, however, has been unknown to date and studies to detect parrot bornaviruses have never been performed in Southeastern Asia. Therefore, 111 psittacines (22 different species) including birds with suspected PDD based on clinical examination results (n = 65), cage mates of PDD suspected parrots without any clinical signs (n = 39) and dead birds with previous clinic suspicious for PDD (n = 7) were tested for bornaviruses using various reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and realtime RT-PCR protocols, an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), immunohistochemistry, and genome sequencing. Bornaviral infections, indicated by the presence of RNA or antibody positive reactions were detected in 60 birds (54.1%) belonging to 15 psittaciform species and originating from 41 owners. Occurrence of Psittaciform 1 orthobornavirus was confirmed by sequencing of PCR products in 24 of these birds. Parrot bornavirus (PaBV)-5, belonging to the species Psittaciform 2 orthobornavirus and found only in single birds in the United States of America, Japan and Hungary until now, was identified in a macaw. Full genome sequencing revealed features shared with other strains of this virus. PaBV-4 was the prevalent virus type and the viruses grouped in two of the five genetic PaBV-4 subclusters known so far while PaBV-2 was found in a single patient. Forty-five psittacines of the group of PDD-suspected birds (69.2%), 4 dead birds and 11 clinically healthy cage mates were positive in at least one test the latter suggesting inefficient horizontal transmission in natural infections. Lymphoplasmacytic infiltrations (non-purulent inflammation, ganglioneuritis) and bornavirus antigen were detected in diverse tissues confirming PDD as the disease involved. These results may have a major impact on conservation projects including the five near-threatened parrot species living in the wild in Thailand.

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