Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New strain of bird virus sweeps across Britain

Date:
November 21, 2012
Source:
Zoological Society of London
Summary:
Scientists report on the impact avian pox is having on great tit populations.

Great tit with pox I.
Credit: Jenny Davis

A new strain of avian pox is taking its toll on garden birds in Britain, reports new research published this week in PLOS ONE.

Scientists from the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), University of Oxford, the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) and RSPB report on the impact avian pox is having on great tit populations.

Avian pox has been recorded in British bird species such as house sparrows and wood pigeons for a number of years. However, the emergence of a new strain of this viral disease in great tits is causing concern amongst vets and ornithologists.

Wildlife vet Dr Becki Lawson from ZSL says: "Infection leads to warty, tumour-like growths on different parts of a bird's body, particularly on the head around the eyes and beak.

"Although the disease can be relatively mild in some species, great tits suffer severe growths that can prevent them from feeding and increase their susceptibility to predation," Dr Lawson added.

Whilst a range of tit species are susceptible to this novel form of the disease, detailed monitoring of birds in Wytham Woods by scientists at the University of Oxford show that great tits are by far the most susceptible.

"Although recovery from infection can occur, our results show that this new strain of avian poxvirus significantly reduces the survival of wild great tits and has particularly large effects on the survival of juvenile birds," says Dr Shelly Lachish of the Edward Grey Institute at Oxford University.

"Based on the numbers of affected great tits that we have observed at Wytham Woods, our models do not predict that this new disease will cause an overall population decline of the species. However, pox-affected populations have lower yearly growth rates. Hence, they are likely to have greater difficulty in recovering from other environmental factors that might reduce their numbers," Dr Lachish added.

With help from the public, scientists at the RSPB and ZSL have tracked the disease, which has spread rapidly in five years from south-east England to central England and into Wales. The annual seasonal peak of observed cases occurs in the early autumn months and incidents continue to be reported at this time of year.

Genetic studies on the virus show that it appears to be the same strain seen previously in Scandinavia and more recently in central Europe, and is unlikely to have originated within Great Britain. BTO data on bird movements confirms that great tits rarely migrate outside the country. The spread of the virus to Britain is, therefore, thought to have occurred through the arrival of an infected vector, such as a mosquito.

Funding from NERC (the Natural Environment Research Council) enabled the detailed research reported here, and scientists are continuing to work together to monitor impacts of this new avian poxvirus strain on the population of great tits in the UK. They are calling on the public to assist in these efforts by reporting any signs of disease in garden birds to the RSPB, and have also highlighted that avian pox is not known to be infectious to humans or other mammals.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Zoological Society of London. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal References:

  1. Shelly Lachish, Becki Lawson, Andrew A. Cunningham, Ben C. Sheldon. Epidemiology of the Emergent Disease Paridae pox in an Intensively Studied Wild Bird Population. PLoS ONE, 2012; 7 (11): e38316 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0038316
  2. Becki Lawson, Shelly Lachish, Katie M. Colvile, Chris Durrant, Kirsi M. Peck, Mike P. Toms, Ben C. Sheldon, Andrew A. Cunningham. Emergence of a Novel Avian Pox Disease in British Tit Species. PLoS ONE, 2012; 7 (11): e40176 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0040176
  3. Shelly Lachish, Michael B. Bonsall, Becki Lawson, Andrew A. Cunningham, Ben C. Sheldon. Individual and Population-Level Impacts of an Emerging Poxvirus Disease in a Wild Population of Great Tits. PLoS ONE, 2012; 7 (11): e48545 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0048545

Cite This Page:

Zoological Society of London. "New strain of bird virus sweeps across Britain." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 November 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121121210244.htm>.
Zoological Society of London. (2012, November 21). New strain of bird virus sweeps across Britain. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121121210244.htm
Zoological Society of London. "New strain of bird virus sweeps across Britain." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121121210244.htm (accessed April 25, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Friday, April 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Deadly Fungus Killing Bats, Spreading in US

Deadly Fungus Killing Bats, Spreading in US

AP (Apr. 24, 2014) A disease that has killed more than six million cave-dwelling bats in the United States is on the move and wildlife biologists are worried. White Nose Syndrome, discovered in New York in 2006, has now spread to 25 states. (April 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Blood From World's Oldest Woman Suggests Life Limit

Blood From World's Oldest Woman Suggests Life Limit

Newsy (Apr. 24, 2014) Scientists say for the extremely elderly, their stem cells might reach a state of exhaustion. This could limit one's life span. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Kangaroo Rescued from Swimming Pool

Raw: Kangaroo Rescued from Swimming Pool

AP (Apr. 24, 2014) A kangaroo was saved from drowning in a backyard suburban swimming pool in Australia's Victoria state on Thursday. Australian broadcaster Channel 7 showed footage of the kangaroo struggling to get out of the pool. (April 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Marijuana Use Lead To Serious Heart Problems?

Could Marijuana Use Lead To Serious Heart Problems?

Newsy (Apr. 24, 2014) A new study says marijuana use could lead to serious heart-related complications. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins