• Molecular identification of papillomavirus in ducks

      Williams, Richard; Tolf, Conny; Waldenström, Jonas; Linnaeus University (Nature Research, 2018-06-14)
      Papillomaviruses infect many vertebrates, including birds. Persistent infections by some strains can cause malignant proliferation of cells (i.e. cancer), though more typically infections cause benign tumours, or may be completely subclinical. Sometimes extensive, persistent tumours are recorded– notably in chaffinches and humans. In 2016, a novel papillomavirus genotype was characterized from a duck faecal microbiome, in Bhopal, India; the sixth papillomavirus genotype from birds. Prompted by this finding, we screened 160 cloacal swabs and 968 faecal samples collected from 299 ducks sampled at Ottenby Bird Observatory, Sweden in 2015, using a newly designed real-time PCR. Twenty one samples (1.9%) from six individuals (2%) were positive. Eighteen sequences were identical to the published genotype, duck papillomavirus 1. One additional novel genotype was recovered from three samples. Both genotypes were recovered from a wild strain domestic mallard that was infected for more than 60 days with each genotype. All positive individuals were adult (P = 0.004). Significantly more positive samples were detected from swabs than faecal samples (P < 0.0001). Sample type data suggests transmission may be via direct contact, and only infrequently, via the oral-faecal route. Infection in only adult birds supports the hypothesis that this virus is sexually transmitted, though more work is required to verify this.
    • Spatio-temporal dynamics and aetiology of proliferative leg skin lesions in wild British finches

      Lawson, Becki; Robinson, Robert A.; Fernandez, Julia Rodriguez-Ramos; John, Shinto K.; Benitez, Laura; Tolf, Conny; Risely, Kate; Toms, Mike P.; Cunningham, Andrew A.; Williams, Richard; et al. (Nature Publiching Group, 2018-10-10)
      Proliferative leg skin lesions have been described in wild finches in Europe although there have been no large-scale studies of their aetiology or epizootiology to date. Firstly, disease surveillance, utilising public reporting of observations of live wild finches was conducted in Great Britain (GB) and showed proliferative leg skin lesions in chaffinches (Fringilla coelebs) to be widespread. Seasonal variation was observed, with a peak during the winter months. Secondly, pathological investigations were performed on a sample of 39 chaffinches, four bullfinches (Pyrrhula pyrrhula), one greenfinch (Chloris chloris) and one goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis) with proliferative leg skin lesions and detected Cnemidocoptes sp. mites in 91% (41/45) of affected finches and from all species examined. Fringilla coelebs papillomavirus (FcPV1) PCR was positive in 74% (23/31) of birds tested: a 394 base pair sequence was derived from 20 of these birds, from all examined species, with 100% identity to reference genomes. Both mites and FcPV1 DNA were detected in 71% (20/28) of birds tested for both pathogens. Histopathological examination of lesions did not discriminate the relative importance of mite or FcPV1 infection as their cause. Development of techniques to localise FcPV1 within lesions is required to elucidate the pathological significance of FcPV1 DNA detection.