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Infectious agents associated with respiratory disease in pheasants
  1. D. de B. Welchman, MA,VetMB, PhD, MRCVS1,
  2. J. M. Bradbury, BSc, MSc,PhD2,
  3. D. Cavanagh, BSc, PhD3 and
  4. N. J. Aebischer, lic.è, PhD4
  1. 1 Veterinary Laboratories Agency, Itchen Abbas, Winchester, Hampshire S021 lBX
  2. 2 Department of Veterinary Pathology, University of Liverpool, Leahurst, Neston CH64 7TE
  3. 3 Institute for Animal Health, Compton Laboratory, Compton, Newbury, Berkshire RG20 7NN
  4. 4 The Game Conservancy Trust, Fordingbridge, Hampshire SP6 1EF


In a case-control study of the infectious agents associated with natural outbreaks of respiratory disease in pheasants, 28 batches of birds from sites affected by disease and eight batches of birds from unaffected sites were examined by six veterinary laboratories in England, Wales and Scotland, and tested for mycoplasmas, other bacteria and viruses. Sinusitis was the commonest sign of disease and was associated with Mycoplasma gallisepticum as detected by PCR in the trachea (P<0.05) and conjunctiva (P<0.01). Sinusitis was also associated with pasteurella cultured from the sinus (P<0.05), antibody to avian pneumovirus (APv) (P<001) and avian coronaviruses as detected by reverse.transcriptase PCR (P<0.05); there was no association between disease and APV as detected by PCR. Avian coronaviruses were the most common infectious agents detected. They were genetically close to infectious bronchitis virus (IBV) but differed in their gene sequence from all the serotypes of iBv previously identified in domestic fowl, and serological tests with six known IBV types showed little cross reactivity. Mycoplasma species other than M gallisepticum were cultured in 18 batches of pheasants but, with the exception of Mycoplasma gailinaceum, were not associated with disease.

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