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Evaluation of mucosal and seborrheic sites for staphylococci in two populations of captive psittacines

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  • 1 Department of Clinical Studies—Philadelphia, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104.
  • | 2 Department of Clinical Studies—Philadelphia, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104.
  • | 3 Department of Clinical Studies—Philadelphia, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104.
  • | 4 Department of Clinical Studies—Philadelphia, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104.
  • | 5 Department of Pathobiology, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104.

Abstract

Objective—To survey 2 populations of psittacines to characterize Staphylococcus spp isolated from commensal cutaneous microflora.

Design—Prospective cross-sectional study.

Animals—107 psittacine birds from a sanctuary and 73 psittacine birds in private households or a pet store.

Procedures—Gram-positive, catalase-positive cocci isolated from mucosal and seborrheic sites were speciated, and pulsed-field gel electrophoresis was performed on coagulase-positive isolates. A bird was classified as having positive results when at least 1 sample site yielded positive results for at least 1 staphylococcal species.

Results—89 of 180 (49.4%) birds had positive results for staphylococci at the carriage sites sampled. Privately owned birds were twice as likely to have positive results for staphylococci as were sanctuary birds (71% vs 35%). Coagulase-positive staphylococci were significantly more common in the sanctuary birds (47% vs 1%). Staphylococcus intermedius was significantly more common in the sanctuary birds (46% vs 2%). Staphylococcus hominis subsp hominis and Staphylococcus epidermidis, coagulase-negative staphylococci associated with humans, were significantly more common in pet birds. Cockatoos were twice as likely to have positive results for staphylococci as were other genera.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results suggested that staphylococcal colonization in captive psittacines was less common than in other species studied. Staphylococci isolated from a pet psittacine may reflect that of the humans and other animals with which the bird lives in close proximity; however, further studies are needed to evaluate the effects exposure to humans may have on the microflora of these birds.

Abstract

Objective—To survey 2 populations of psittacines to characterize Staphylococcus spp isolated from commensal cutaneous microflora.

Design—Prospective cross-sectional study.

Animals—107 psittacine birds from a sanctuary and 73 psittacine birds in private households or a pet store.

Procedures—Gram-positive, catalase-positive cocci isolated from mucosal and seborrheic sites were speciated, and pulsed-field gel electrophoresis was performed on coagulase-positive isolates. A bird was classified as having positive results when at least 1 sample site yielded positive results for at least 1 staphylococcal species.

Results—89 of 180 (49.4%) birds had positive results for staphylococci at the carriage sites sampled. Privately owned birds were twice as likely to have positive results for staphylococci as were sanctuary birds (71% vs 35%). Coagulase-positive staphylococci were significantly more common in the sanctuary birds (47% vs 1%). Staphylococcus intermedius was significantly more common in the sanctuary birds (46% vs 2%). Staphylococcus hominis subsp hominis and Staphylococcus epidermidis, coagulase-negative staphylococci associated with humans, were significantly more common in pet birds. Cockatoos were twice as likely to have positive results for staphylococci as were other genera.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results suggested that staphylococcal colonization in captive psittacines was less common than in other species studied. Staphylococci isolated from a pet psittacine may reflect that of the humans and other animals with which the bird lives in close proximity; however, further studies are needed to evaluate the effects exposure to humans may have on the microflora of these birds.

Contributor Notes

Supported by a grant from the American Academy of Veterinary Dermatology.

Presented in part as a scientific abstract at the North American Veterinary Dermatology Forum, April 2007, Kauai, Hawaii.

The authors thank Drs. Matthew Johnston, Daniella Yaakov, and Jamie Griffin for assistance with animal sampling and Kathleen O'Shea, Donna Maloney, and Marianne Lorenzo for technical assistance.

Address correspondence to Dr. Briscoe.