High prevalence of novel beak and feather disease virus in sympatric invasive parakeets introduced to Spain from Asia and South America.
The psittacine beak and feather disease (PBFD) is a globally widespread infectious bird disease that mainly affects species within the Order Psittaciformes (parrots and allies). The disease is caused by an avian circovirus (the beak and feather disease virus, BFDV), which is highly infectious and can lead to severe consequences in wild and captive populations during an outbreak. Both legal and illegal trading have spread the BFDV around the world, although little is known about its prevalence in invasive parrot populations. Here, we analyze the BFDV prevalence in sympatric invasive populations of rose-ringed (Psittacula krameri) and monk parakeets (Myiopsitta monachus) in Southern Spain. We PCR-screened 110 blood samples (55 individuals from each species) for BFDV and characterized the genotypes of five positives from each species. About 33% of rose-ringed parakeets and 37% of monk parakeets sampled were positive for BFDV, while neither species showed disease symptoms. The circovirus identified is a novel BFDV genotype common to both species, similar to the BFDV genotypes detected in several parrot species kept in captivity in Saudi Arabia, South Africa and China. Our data evidences the importance of an accurate evaluation of avian diseases in wild populations, since invasive parrots may be bringing BFDV without showing any visually detectable clinical sign. Further research on the BFDV prevalence and transmission (individual-individual, captive-wild and wild-captive) in different bird orders and countries is crucial to understand the dynamics of the viral infection and minimize its impact in captive and wild populations.