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THE farming of red-legged partridges (Alectoris rufa) as a game species is of increasing economic importance throughout the Mediterranean region and in the UK; however, the diseases of this species have not been thoroughly investigated (Millán 2009). The release of farmed partridges into the wild could carry a risk of disseminating new pathogens. Avian tuberculosis is an infectious disease that affects numerous species of birds worldwide (Thorel and others 1997, Tell and others 2001, Fulton and Thoen 2003), although at present it seems to be more prevalent in zoological aviaries, captive and pet birds (Witte and others 2008, Manarolla and others 2009). There have been no reports of tuberculosis in farmed red-legged partridges; the only two references to the disease in this species are from a zoo (Holsboer-Buogo and others 1997) and in wild birds (Millán and others 2004).
Avian tuberculosis is a chronic disease typically causing granulomas that are more frequently found in the liver, spleen, gastrointestinal tract and bone marrow (Tell and others 2001, Fulton and Thoen 2003). Microscopically, the disease may manifest in three forms depending on the affected species: the classic tuberculoid, focal or multifocal form; a diffuse form; and a paratuberculosis-like form in the gastrointestinal tract. The disease …