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Prevalence of and risk factors associated with atherosclerosis in psittacine birds

Hugues BeaufrèreDepartment of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, School of Veterinary Medicine, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA 70803.

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Mélanie AmmersbachDepartment of Pathobiology, Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON N1G 4S7, Canada.

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Drury R. ReavillZoo/Exotic Pathology Service, 2825 KOVR Dr, West Sacramento, CA 95605.

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Michael M. GarnerNorthwest ZooPath, 654 W Main St, Monroe, WA 98272.

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J. Jill HeatleyDepartment of Small Animal Clinical Sciences and the Schubot Center, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77845.

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Nobuko WakamatsuDepartment of Pathobiological Sciences, School of Veterinary Medicine, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA 70803.

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Javier G. NevarezDepartment of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, School of Veterinary Medicine, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA 70803.

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Thomas N. TullyDepartment of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, School of Veterinary Medicine, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA 70803.

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Abstract

Objective—To estimate the prevalence of clinically relevant atherosclerotic lesions in birds and identify epidemiological variables and illness types associated with development of atherosclerosis.

Design—Retrospective case-control study.

Sample—Records of 7683 psittacine birds, including 525 with advanced atherosclerosis.

Procedures—5 pathology centers provided databases and access to histopathology slides. Age and sex were collected for all birds of the Amazona, Ara, Cacatua, Nymphicus, and Psittacus genera. Databases were searched for atherosclerosis cases, and slides were reviewed for the presence of type IV through VI atherosclerotic lesions. Results were used to build several multiple logistic models to define the association between advanced atherosclerosis and age, sex, genus, illness type, and specific lesions. Prevalence was reported as a function of age, sex, and genus.

Results—In the first model including 7683 birds, age, female sex, and the genera Psittacus, Amazona, and Nymphicus were significantly associated with clinically relevant atherosclerosis detected via necropsy. Subsequent models of 1,050 cases revealed further associations with reproductive disease, hepatic disease, and myocardial fibrosis, controlling for age, sex, and genus.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Age, female sex, and 3 genera appeared to be positively associated with the presence of advanced atherosclerotic lesions in psittacine birds. This information may be useful in clinical assessment of the cardiovascular system and patient management. Reproductive diseases were the only potentially modifiable risk factor identified and could be a target for prevention in captive psittacine birds.

Abstract

Objective—To estimate the prevalence of clinically relevant atherosclerotic lesions in birds and identify epidemiological variables and illness types associated with development of atherosclerosis.

Design—Retrospective case-control study.

Sample—Records of 7683 psittacine birds, including 525 with advanced atherosclerosis.

Procedures—5 pathology centers provided databases and access to histopathology slides. Age and sex were collected for all birds of the Amazona, Ara, Cacatua, Nymphicus, and Psittacus genera. Databases were searched for atherosclerosis cases, and slides were reviewed for the presence of type IV through VI atherosclerotic lesions. Results were used to build several multiple logistic models to define the association between advanced atherosclerosis and age, sex, genus, illness type, and specific lesions. Prevalence was reported as a function of age, sex, and genus.

Results—In the first model including 7683 birds, age, female sex, and the genera Psittacus, Amazona, and Nymphicus were significantly associated with clinically relevant atherosclerosis detected via necropsy. Subsequent models of 1,050 cases revealed further associations with reproductive disease, hepatic disease, and myocardial fibrosis, controlling for age, sex, and genus.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Age, female sex, and 3 genera appeared to be positively associated with the presence of advanced atherosclerotic lesions in psittacine birds. This information may be useful in clinical assessment of the cardiovascular system and patient management. Reproductive diseases were the only potentially modifiable risk factor identified and could be a target for prevention in captive psittacine birds.

Contributor Notes

The authors thank Dr. Christoph Mans, Dr. Mark Mitchell, Dr. David Sanchez-Migallon Guzman, Christie Buie, and Mailys Stieglitz for technical assistance and Dr. Brian Marx for statistical advice.

Address correspondence to Dr. Beaufrère (h.beaufrere@gmail.com).