In 2013, a mortality event of nonnative, feral Rosy-faced Lovebirds (Agapornis roseicollis) in residential backyards in Maricopa County, Arizona, US was attributed to infection with Chlamydia psittaci. In June 2014, additional mortality occurred in the same region. Accordingly, in August 2014 we sampled live lovebirds and sympatric bird species visiting backyard bird feeders to determine the prevalence of DNA and the seroprevalence of antibodies to C. psittaci using real-time PCR-based testing and elementary body agglutination, respectively. Chlamydia psittaci DNA was present in conjunctival-choanal or cloacal swabs in 93% (43/46) of lovebirds and 10% (14/142) of sympatric birds. Antibodies to C. psittaci were detected in 76% (31/41) of lovebirds and 7% (7/102) of sympatric birds. Among the sympatric birds, Rock Doves (Columba livia) had the highest prevalence of C. psittaci DNA (75%; 6/8) and seroprevalence (25%; 2/8). Psittacine circovirus 1 DNA was also identified, using real-time PCR-based testing, from the same swab samples in 69% (11/16) of species sampled, with a prevalence of 80% (37/46) in lovebirds and 27% (38/142) in sympatric species. The presence of either Rosy-faced Lovebirds or Rock Doves at residential bird feeders may be cause for concern for epizootic and zoonotic transmission of C. psittaci in this region.
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Vol. 54 • No. 2