Pigeon circovirus (PiCV) infections have been reported worldwide. A broad range of clinical signs are associated with this virus, including lethargy, anorexia, weight loss, reduced race performance, respiratory distress and diarrhoea. Definitive diagnosis has to date relied on histopathology. Examination of infected young birds reveals the presence of characteristic inclusions in lymphoid tissue such as the bursa of Fabricius. As this organ shrinks in size as birds grow older and is tiny or absent in adult birds, diagnosis by histopathology alone is unreliable.
PCR detects the presence or absence of the viral genome, and can assist the diagnosis of PiCV disease at post mortem. We have validated this test using liver samples and gut contents from pigeon and non-pigeon species, and have shown there is a link between strong positive PCR results and clinical signs compatible with PiCV related disease. In addition, positive PCR results and positive histopathology results were shown to be correlated. Negative PCR results can rule out the involvement of PiCV infection in sick pigeons.
This test may be performed on samples of the liver and gut contents.