Immune responses of wild birds to emerging infectious diseases
© 2015 John Wiley & Sons Ltd
Reason for embargo
Over the past several decades, outbreaks of emerging infectious diseases (EIDs) in wild birds have attracted worldwide media attention, either because of their extreme virulence or because of alarming spillovers into agricultural animals or humans. The pathogens involved have been found to infect a variety of bird hosts ranging from relatively few species (e.g. Trichomonas gallinae) to hundreds of species (e.g. West Nile Virus). Here we review and contrast the immune responses that wild birds are able to mount against these novel pathogens. We discuss the extent to which these responses are associated with reduced clinical symptoms, pathogen load and mortality, or conversely, how they can be linked to worsened pathology and reduced survival. We then investigate how immune responses to EIDs can evolve over time in response to pathogen-driven selection using the illustrative case study of the epizootic outbreak of Mycoplasma gallisepticum in wild North American house finches (Haemorhous mexicanus). We highlight the need for future work to take advantage of the substantial inter- and intraspecific variation in disease progression and outcome following infections with EID to elucidate the extent to which immune responses confer increased resistance through pathogen clearance or may instead heighten pathogenesis.
Natural Environment Research Council grant (NERC)
Vol. 37 (5), pp. 242 - 254
Cellular and Molecular Biosciences Peaks of Excellence Research Fellowship
Place of publication