Health surveillance of a potential bridge host: Pathogen exposure risks posed to avian populations augmented with captive-bred pheasants

Transboundary and Emerging Diseases
By: , and 



Augmentation of wild populations with captive-bred individuals presents an inherent risk of co-introducing novel pathogens to naïve species, but it can be an important tool for supplementing small or declining populations. Game species used for human enterprise and recreation such as the ring-necked pheasant (Phasianus colchicus) are commonly raised in captivity and released onto public and private wildlands as a method of augmenting naturalized pheasant populations. This study presents findings on pathogen exposure from three sources of serological data collected in California during 2014–2017 including (a) 71 pen-reared pheasants sampled across seven game bird breeding farms, (b) six previously released pen-reared pheasants captured at two study sites where wild pheasants occurred and (c) 79 wild pheasants captured across six study sites. In both pen-reared and wild pheasants, antibodies were detected against haemorrhagic enteritis virus (HEV), infectious laryngotracheitis (ILT), infectious bursal disease virus (IBDV), paramyxovirus type 1 (PMV-1) and Pasteurella multocida (PM). Previously released pen-reared pheasants were seropositive for HEV, ILT, and PM. Generalized linear mixed models accounting for intraclass correlation within groups indicated that pen-reared pheasants were more than twice as likely to test positive for HEV antibodies. Necropsy and ancillary diagnostics were performed in addition to serological testing on 40 pen-reared pheasants sampled from five of the seven farms. Pheasants from three of these farms tested positive by PCR for Siadenovirus, the causative agent of both haemorrhagic enteritis in turkeys and marble spleen disease of pheasants, which are serologically indistinguishable. Following necropsy, owners from the five farms were surveyed regarding husbandry and biosecurity practices. Farms ranged in size from 10,000 to more than 100,000 birds, two farms raised other game bird species on premises, and two farms used some form of vaccination. Biosecurity practices varied by farm, but the largest farm implemented the strictest practices.

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Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Health surveillance of a potential bridge host: Pathogen exposure risks posed to avian populations augmented with captive-bred pheasants
Series title Transboundary and Emerging Diseases
DOI 10.1111/tbed.14068
Volume 69
Issue 3
Year Published 2022
Language English
Publisher Wiley
Contributing office(s) Western Ecological Research Center
Description 13 p.
First page 1095
Last page 1107
Country United States
State California
Other Geospatial Sacramento and San Joaquin Valley
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