Submitted to: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/12/2005
Publication Date: 1/15/2006
Citation: Hawkins, M.G., Crossley, B.M., Osofsky, A., Webby, R.J., Lee, C.W., Suarez, D.L., Hietala, S.K. 2006. H5N2 avian influenza a in a red-lored amazon parrot (amazona autumnalis autumnalis). Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association. 228(2):236-241. Interpretive Summary: Avian influenza virus is naturally found in wild birds, but it can be introduced into poultry where it can cause serious disease. Psittacines, including parrots, have rarely been diagnosed with avian influenza infections, and typically do not show clinical disease. However recently a young Amazon parrot from California was diagnosed with a H5N2 strain of avian influenza that likely caused a severe disease that the bird eventually recovered from. The H5N2 virus was characterized and found to be closely related to avian influenza viruses seen recently in Mexico and Central America. This is the first time that this strain of avian influenza has been seen in the United States. If this strain of virus infected our commercial poultry, it would likely result in a serious disease and result in trade restrictions of poultry products. This case highlights the importance of testing psittacines for avian influenza and highlights the risk of these types of birds carrying important poultry pathogens.
Technical Abstract: This report describes an avian influenza A H5N2 virus in a red-lored Amazon parrot (Amazona autumnalis autumnalis) with clinical signs of diarrhea, melena and lethargy. This is the first report of H5N2 avian influenza A virus isolated from a psittacine bird. The virus was further characterized as a low pathogenic avian influenza strain and was closely related to a virus lineage that previously had only been reported in Mexico and Central America. This represents the first introduction of this virus lineage into the U.S., likely by illegal importation of psittacine birds. The avian influenza virus initially was detected by real-time RT-PCR (RRT-PCR) as part of a diagnostic evaluation that included Newcastle disease virus. Although detection of H5 avian influenza in birds in the U.S. typically results in euthanasia of the infected birds, an alternative strategy using strict quarantine measures and repeated diagnostic testing was used. The bird recovered from the initial clinical signs after four days and was released from quarantine nine weeks after intial presentation following two consecutive negative virus isolation and RRT-PCR results. Influenza A virus should be considered as a differential diagnosis for clinical signs of gastrointestinal disease in psittacine birds, especially in birds with a suspicious history of origin.