September 21, 2012

In the Spotlight: Past Wildlife Disease Investigation from the Australian Wildlife Health Network

The Animal Health Surveillance Quarterly Report (AHSQ) is published by Animal Health Australia. Inside the September issue, the Australian Wildlife Health Network provides a summary of wildlife disease and mortality events reported to the Wildlife Health Information System (eWHIS) between April and June 2012. Below is a brief on one of those case reports.

Macrorhabdus ornithogaster in wild birds

Macrorhabdus ornithogaster (previously known as megabacteria) causes a fungal infection commonly diagnosed in a variety of pet and aviary birds. It is occasionally identified in wild birds in Australia and has been implicated as a possible contributor (along with Spironucleus spp.)5 to a syndrome of weight loss in juvenile galahs (Eolophus roseicapillus) in south-east Queensland. M. ornithogaster is usually identified by microscopic examination of a wet-mount faecal preparation.

M. ornithogaster infection was diagnosed in 11 wild birds reported to the AWHN between April and June 2012. There were four affected galahs and one little corella from south-east Queensland, five galahs from northern New South Wales and a little corella from a Perth suburb. All cases were reported into the National Wildlife Health Information System through the Zoo Based Wildlife Disease Surveillance Program.

The galahs from Queensland and New South Wales presented to Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary were emaciated and were all diagnosed with M. ornithogaster based on a wet-mount faecal smear. Four were from a single flock that, along with an Indian ringneck (Psittacula krameri) believed to be an escaped aviary bird, were known to be fed by a member of the public. One of the galahs, which presented with dyspnoea, had a heavy burden of M. ornithogaster in the proventriculus and a heavy infection of Trichomonas associated with caseous pharyngeal lesions (based on cytology).

The little corella was presented to Perth Zoo in June....

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