Raptors are susceptible to Aspergillus fumigatus infection, which can result in life-threatening respiratory disease. Gyrfalcons (Falco rusticolus) are thought to be more frequently affected than other raptor species. However, epidemiological research in this area is lacking.
Researchers from Justus Liebig University Giessen and Ghent University set out to investigate aspergillosis in otherwise healthy gyr-hybrid falcons through experimental inoculation with A. fumigatus. The 8 week old chicks were received a single tracheal inoculation, and were monitored over 28 days. Clinical signs correlated with the dose received, and fungal lesions were found in 10 out of the 18 inoculated falcons, but not in any of the control birds.
This study is the first to show that aspergillosis manifests in falcons following a single exposure, providing vital information for the husbandry of these birds. The results might also help to set threshold values for fungal conidia in ambient air, and provide further information as to the clinical signs and diagnostic indicators for aspergillosis in falcon species.