More than classical Chlamydia psittaci in urban pigeons
In the literature, studies of Chlamydia infection in birds have usually been confined to the search for Chlamydia (C., formerly Chlamydophila) psittaci, so that little is known about the presence of other chlamydial agents. In the present study, cloacal swabs and faeces samples of urban pigeons have been examined by real-time PCR, DNA microarray assays and partial ompA sequencing. While C. psittaci was the predominant chlamydial agent in this pigeon population (75.8% of all Chlamydiaceae positives), the combined use of highly specific and sensitive molecular assays facilitated the detection of atypical serovars of C. psittaci, as well as other species of Chlamydia, such as C. abortus. Detection of C. pecorum and C. trachomatis from an avian host is reported here for the first time. Rather unexpectedly, 19.5% of all Chlamydiaceae-positive cases turned out to be infected with non-classified organisms. The considerable prevalence of these novel agents raises the question of their epidemiological importance and possible role as pathogens. Future surveys in domestic and wild birds will have to take the extended variety of chlamydial organisms into account.