In Austria, numerous deaths of wild birds of the order Passeriformes, family Fringillidae, occurred during the winter months of 2010 and 2012. The Eurasian Siskin (Carduelis spinus) was the species most often affected. The dead birds were mainly found in the immediate vicinity of feeding places. Vigilant citizens sent birds (n=34) for pathologic examination to the Institute of Pathology in Vienna, Austria. All birds were cachectic or in a very poor nutritional condition. At gross examination, the most striking findings were multifocal to confluent, yellow-white nodules in the crop or esophageal mucosa. In histologically examined birds (n=24), severe transmural fibrino-purulent to necrotizing ingluviitis or esophagitis with large amounts of intralesional bacteria was observed. Bacteriologic examination of crop, liver, or other organs from 14 birds revealed abundant growth of Salmonella serovar Typhimurium (antigenic formula 1,4,5,12:i:1,2; phage type U277) in all individuals. By means of immunohistochemistry, these bacteria were detected not only in crop mucosa but also in lung tissue. In 17 birds (71%), structures morphologically resembling Macrorhabdus ornithogaster were detected histologically on the surface of the proventricular epithelium. Thus, the cause of mass mortality of the passerine birds was identified as infection with Salmonella Typhimurium, which was associated with growth of presumed M. ornithogaster in many cases.© Wildlife Disease Association 2021.
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