Atherosclerosis is a common disease in pet birds, particularly in psittacines. Little is known about the role of risk factors predisposing birds to this disease. In our study, we tried to detect chlamydiae in formalin-fixed and paraffin-embedded atherosclerotic tissue from 103 pet birds to clarify their role in atherosclerosis. Methods used were polymerase chain reaction (PCR), sequencing, and immunohistochemistry. Histopathologic examination served to classify the extent of atherosclerotic lesions. In the PCR, 4 (3.9%) of 103 cases, all of them with advanced stages of atherosclerosis, were positive. Subsequent sequence analysis revealed high identities (94%–100%) with Chlamydophila psittaci in three cases. Interestingly, two of these birds came from C. psittaci–infected populations. Because of the low incidence (3.9%), the occurrence only in advanced stages, and the association with C. psittaci–infected avian populations, a causal relationship between chlamydiae and atherosclerosis in pet birds is rather improbable.
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Vol. 51 • No. 1