Avian bornavirus (ABV) is a known cause of proventricular dilatation disease in parrots and encephalitis in waterfowl and is a significant cause of both morbidity and mortality in captive birds. Transmission is thought to occur primarily by the fecal-oral route. In an aviary setting, controlling the disease involves a thorough understanding of the complete transmission cycle, including determining whether vertical transmission occurs. In this study, vertical transmission of ABV was evaluated by using 61 eggs obtained from birds in 2 aviaries where proventricular dilatation disease was prevalent, and the presence of ABV had been confirmed by fecal reverse transcription–polymerase chain reaction by using a primer set designed to detect ABV M protein. The contents of these eggs were then tested for the presence of ABV RNA. Of the eggs tested, 10 were determined to contain ABV RNA. These eggs ranged from apparently nonviable to those that contained developing embryos. ABV was detected in the brain tissue of 2 embryos. It remains to be proven that infected chicks can hatch from these eggs to complete the vertical transmission cycle; however, these findings suggest that vertical transmission of ABV may occur.
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