Event Title

Backyard chicken exposure to Mycoplasma gallisepticum in central Iowa

Date

1-4-2016 12:00 AM

Major

Animal Ecology

Department

Natural Resource Ecology & Management

College

College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

Project Advisor

James Adelman

Project Advisor's Department

Natural Resource Ecology & Management

Description

Mycoplasma gallisepticum (MG), a bacterial pathogen of poultry, causes respiratory disease and conjunctivitis, which can result in decreased egg production and serious economic losses. This pathogen recently (mid-1990s) jumped hosts to wild House Finches, causing severe population declines, though we do not know the source of the initial jump or whether the pathogen can jump back into chickens from wild finches. Backyard chickens could be important intermediaries for the transmission of MG across species, since these animals are highly likely to contact wild birds. To assess this possibility, I tested five backyard flocks in and around Ames, IA for antibodies against MG, which indicate prior exposure to this pathogen. Additionally, I conducted House Finch surveys at each site to assess whether exposure to MG correlated with potential exposure to finches. Blood samples from 46 chickens revealed that 13% of individuals (in 3/5 flocks) were likely exposed. In addition, flocks at sites with House Finches tended to show more MG exposure. This preliminary study suggests that MG is present in backyard flocks in IA, and that cross-species transmission is possible. However, further study at this wild-domestic interface is needed to determine whether such transmission truly occurs, and in which direction(s).

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Apr 1st, 12:00 AM

Backyard chicken exposure to Mycoplasma gallisepticum in central Iowa

Mycoplasma gallisepticum (MG), a bacterial pathogen of poultry, causes respiratory disease and conjunctivitis, which can result in decreased egg production and serious economic losses. This pathogen recently (mid-1990s) jumped hosts to wild House Finches, causing severe population declines, though we do not know the source of the initial jump or whether the pathogen can jump back into chickens from wild finches. Backyard chickens could be important intermediaries for the transmission of MG across species, since these animals are highly likely to contact wild birds. To assess this possibility, I tested five backyard flocks in and around Ames, IA for antibodies against MG, which indicate prior exposure to this pathogen. Additionally, I conducted House Finch surveys at each site to assess whether exposure to MG correlated with potential exposure to finches. Blood samples from 46 chickens revealed that 13% of individuals (in 3/5 flocks) were likely exposed. In addition, flocks at sites with House Finches tended to show more MG exposure. This preliminary study suggests that MG is present in backyard flocks in IA, and that cross-species transmission is possible. However, further study at this wild-domestic interface is needed to determine whether such transmission truly occurs, and in which direction(s).