Psittacine beak and feather disease (PBFD) is a highly infectious and potentially fatal viral disease of parrots and their allies caused by the beak and feather disease virus (BFDV). Abnormal feather morphology and loss of feathers are common clinical symptoms of the disease. PBFD also damages the lymphoid tissue and affected birds may die as a result of secondary bacterial or fungal infections. The disease is therefore of concern for conservation biologists and wildlife managers, as it is immunosuppressive and can become an additional threatening factor among critically endangered psittacines. We conducted a PCR-based screening for BFDV in a wild population of the Red-fronted Parakeet (Cyanoramphus novaezelandiae) on Little Barrier Island, New Zealand, during a translocation of this species. Fifty-four parakeets were captured and feather samples collected for molecular screening. We detected BFDV DNA from 15 individuals, but only two showed external signs attributable to PBFD, namely abnormal feather morphology or colouration, loss of feathers and haemorrhagic feathers. Our survey represents the first positive identification of BFDV in wild New Zealand endemic psittacines and confirms the risk of spread of the virus between wild populations within this global hotspot of endemic psittacine diversity.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Animal Science and Zoology
- Nature and Landscape Conservation