Between 2000 and 2004 a disease occurred in an aviary in Germany affecting various bird species belonging to the order Passeriformes including Collared Grosbeaks (Mycerobas affinis), Eurasian Bullfinches (Pyrrhula pyrrhula griseiventris), Brown Bullfinches (Pyrrhula nipalensis), Grey-headed bullfinches (Pyrrhula erythaca) and Yellow-bellied Tits (Periparus venustulus). The major clinical signs included increased mortality of fledglings and young birds, as well as feather disorders and feather loss in adult birds. In addition, adult Eurasian Bullfinches showed in one year a disease course, in which the major symptom was inflammation of the skin beginning on the basis of the beak and spreading over the head occurring a few days before death. Bacteriological and parasitological investigations did not reveal any consistent findings. Using a newly developed polymerase chain reaction protocol, DNA of the recently discovered finch polyomavirus (FPyV) was demonstrated in several affected birds. Because of the consistent detection of FPyV-DNA and the similarity of the symptoms with those observed during infection with the closely related avian polyomavirus in other bird species, an etiological role of FPyV in the observed disease is assumed.
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