CCWHC Student Collects Pathogen Information on Birds in Captivity
During the summer of 2011, the Alberta node of CCWHC undertook a project to determine if wild birds submitted to rehabilitation centres in the Calgary Region were infected with Trichomonas gallinae. This parasite causes Trichomonosis and primarily infects pigeons, however, the parasite can also spill over to other species including finches and raptors in which it can result in high mortality. Trichomonosis is considered to be an emerging disease in the Atlantic Provinces of Canada and in the UK, however, not much is known about its prevalence in Alberta.
As a part of the surveillance activities of the Alberta CCWHC regional office, wild birds admitted to local rehabilitation Centres in and around Calgary were tested for for T. gallinae. Monica Kovacs, a DVM student at the University of Calgary, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine (UCVM) was hired as a summer student for the project. Monica was funded by the Morris Animal Foundation Veterinary Scholar Program as well as a UCVM summer studentship. As part of the project, a collaboration was established between Alberta-CCWHC and the Calgary Wildlife Rehabilitation Society (CWRS) as well as with Alberta Institute for Wildlife Conservation (AIWC) for collecting dead birds for post mortem and oral swabs from live birds for culture.
A total of 121 birds were examined, of which 19% tested positive for the parasite. Future studies are planned to determine if T. gallinae is present in non-rehabilitation centre wild birds in the Calgary region.