We performed experiments to test if American Goldfinches (Spinus tristis) could be a competent reservoir for Mycoplasma gallisepticum and play a role in the epidemic spread of mycoplasmal conjunctivitis among House Finches (Carpodacus mexicanus) in North America. We infected one of two individuals housed together in a cage and determined if transmission occurred to the second bird. Probability of transmission between an American Goldfinch and a House Finch (in either direction) was similar to that between two House Finches. In a second experiment small groups of birds (6–8) were housed in large aviaries. Two source birds were inoculated with M. gallisepticum, and transmission to the naive birds in the aviary was recorded. Transmission occurred among House Finches, among American Goldfinches, and from House Finches to American Goldfinches. Transmission was more likely between House Finches than among American Goldfinches, and between House Finches and American Goldfinches. We conclude that American Goldfinches are a competent reservoir for Mycoplasma gallisepticum and could have played a role in the spread of the epidemic as they are more migratory than House Finches.
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Vol. 49 • No. 1