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Wheathampstead, United Kingdom

Lawson B.,UK Institute of Zoology | De Pinna E.,Public Health England | Horton R.A.,Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency | Macgregor S.K.,Zoological Society of London | And 8 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2014

The importance of wild bird populations as a reservoir of zoonotic pathogens is well established. Salmonellosis is a frequently diagnosed infectious cause of mortality of garden birds in England and Wales, predominantly caused by Salmonella enterica subspecies enterica serovar Typhimurium definitive phage types 40, 56(v) and 160. In Britain, these phage types are considered highly host-adapted with a high degree of genetic similarity amongst isolates, and in some instances are clonal. Pulsed field gel electrophoresis, however, demonstrated minimal variation amongst matched DT40 and DT56(v) isolates derived from passerine and human incidents of salmonellosis across England in 2000-2007. Also, during the period 1993-2012, similar temporal and spatial trends of infection with these S. Typhimurium phage types occurred in both the British garden bird and human populations; 1.6% of all S. Typhimurium (0.2% of all Salmonella) isolates from humans in England and Wales over the period 2000-2010. These findings support the hypothesis that garden birds act as the primary reservoir of infection for these zoonotic bacteria. Most passerine salmonellosis outbreaks identified occurred at and around feeding stations, which are likely sites of public exposure to sick or dead garden birds and their faeces. We, therefore, advise the public to practise routine personal hygiene measures when feeding wild birds and especially when handling sick wild birds. © 2014 Crown Copyright. Source


Lawson B.,UK Institute of Zoology | Lawson B.,University of Liverpool | Howard T.,UK Institute of Zoology | Kirkwood J.K.,Universities Federation for Animal Welfare | And 5 more authors.
EcoHealth | Year: 2010

Salmonellosis has been reported as an important cause of mortality of garden birds in several countries, including Norway and Scotland. We investigated the frequency of the disease in garden birds submitted for postmortem examination by members of the public in England and Wales between 1993 and 2003, inclusive. We found salmonellosis to be the most frequent cause of death due to infectious disease in the garden birds submitted. This disease was confirmed in 7 of the 45 bird species that were examined postmortem, with the greenfinch (Carduelis chloris) and the house sparrow (Passer domesticus) most frequently affected. Salmonella Typhimurium definitive phage type (DT) 40, DT56 variant(v), and DT160 accounted for the majority of isolates. Salmonellosis incidents chiefly occurred in the English Midlands, the English/Welsh border region, and southern England. Variation in the temporal and spatial distribution of the phage types occurred over the study period. While birds were examined throughout the year, there was a marked winter seasonality in salmonellosis. A significant sex bias was observed in affected greenfinches, with males more frequently diagnosed with salmonellosis than females. No sex bias was observed for other affected species. Further research is required to determine if salmonellosis is an important constraint to the populations of affected species and if disease outbreaks are driven by human factors, such as provisioning. © 2010 International Association for Ecology and Health. Source


Robinson R.A.,British Trust for Ornithology | Lawson B.,UK Institute of Zoology | Toms M.P.,British Trust for Ornithology | Peck K.M.,The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds | And 13 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2010

Emerging infectious diseases are increasingly cited as threats to wildlife, livestock and humans alike. They can threaten geographically isolated or critically endangered wildlife populations; however, relatively few studies have clearly demonstrated the extent to which emerging diseases can impact populations of common wildlife species. Here, we report the impact of an emerging protozoal disease on British populations of greenfinch Carduelis chloris and chaffinch Fringilla coelebs, two of the most common birds in Britain. Morphological and molecular analyses showed this to be due to Trichomonas gallinae. Trichomonosis emerged as a novel fatal disease of finches in Britain in 2005 and rapidly became epidemic within greenfinch, and to a lesser extent chaffinch, populations in 2006. By 2007, breeding populations of greenfinches and chaffinches in the geographic region of highest disease incidence had decreased by 35% and 21% respectively, representing mortality in excess of half a million birds. In contrast, declines were less pronounced or absent in these species in regions where the disease was found in intermediate or low incidence. Also, populations of dunnock Prunella modularis, which similarly feeds in gardens, but in which T. gallinae was rarely recorded, did not decline. This is the first trichomonosis epidemic reported in the scientific literature to negatively impact populations of free-ranging noncolumbiform species, and such levels of mortality and decline due to an emerging infectious disease are unprecedented in British wild bird populations. This disease emergence event demonstrates the potential for a protozoan parasite to jump avian host taxonomic groups with dramatic effect over a short time period. © 2010 Robinson et al. Source


Lawson B.,UK Institute of Zoology | Lawson B.,University of Liverpool | Robinson R.A.,British Trust for Ornithology | Neimanis A.,National Veterinary Institute | And 15 more authors.
EcoHealth | Year: 2011

Finch trichomonosis emerged in Great Britain in 2005 and led to epidemic mortality and a significant population decline of greenfinches, Carduelis chloris and chaffinches, Fringilla coelebs, in the central and western counties of England and Wales in the autumn of 2006. In this article, we show continued epidemic spread of the disease with a pronounced shift in geographical distribution towards eastern England in 2007. This was followed by international spread to southern Fennoscandia where cases were confirmed at multiple sites in the summer of 2008. Sequence data of the ITS1/5.8S/ITS2 ribosomal region and part of the small subunit (SSU) rRNA gene showed no variation between the British and Fennoscandian parasite strains of Trichomonas gallinae. Epidemiological and historical ring return data support bird migration as a plausible mechanism for the observed pattern of disease spread, and suggest the chaffinch as the most likely primary vector. This finding is novel since, although intuitive, confirmed disease spread by migratory birds is very rare and, when it has been recognised, this has generally been for diseases caused by viral pathogens. We believe this to be the first documented case of the spread of a protozoal emerging infectious disease by migrating birds. © 2011 International Association for Ecology and Health. Source


Kirkwood J.K.,Universities Federation for Animal Welfare
Animal Welfare | Year: 2010

The 150th anniversary of the publication of The Origin of Species... is a good time to consider how selection can affect welfare - the quality of life. Darwin (1859) quoted Youatt's description of selective breeding: "...the magician's wand, by means of which he may summon into life whatever form and mould he pleases". Evolution has fairly recently included us humans in its toolbox, alongside its older instruments, such as climate and disease, as significant agents of selection. We have taken to this work vigorously and have summoned into life an extraordinary array of creatures. It is only much more recently, with the development of interest in animal welfare science, that the welfare consequences of this have begun to be critically reviewed. There are two ways that selection can affect welfare: (i) by resulting in changes that make aversive feelings more likely, eg by predisposing to disease or by altering behaviour such as to increase risk of disease or injury, and (ii) by altering sensitivity of the affect systems such that animals feel, for example, more (or less) pain or fear in response to a stimulus than their ancestors would have. Comparing natural and human selection - that is, the simultaneous scrutiny of all aspects of biology as opposed to our selection for one or two features that appeal to us - Darwin (1859) wrote: "Can we wonder, then, that nature's productions should be far 'truer' in character than man's productions; that they should be infinitely better adapted to the most complex conditions of life, and should plainly bear the stamp of far higher workmanship". The aims of this meeting were to discuss how selection can affect welfare and how we can improve our workmanship in the interests of animal welfare. © 2010 Universities Federation for Animal Welfare. Source

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