Maintenance of a captive flock of house finches free of infection by Mycoplasma gallisepticum

P. M. Nolan, R. A. Duckworth, G. E. Hill, S. R. Roberts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Since the beginning of an epidemic of conjunctivitis in wild house finches caused by Mycoplasma gallisepticum (MG), all captive colonies established by capturing free-ranging house finches from the eastern population have also either been infected at the time of capture or developed infection shortly after capture. In an attempt to avoid this infection in captive flocks being maintained for studies of the finches' behavior and ecology, we compared two different flock management strategies and were able to prevent the development of mycoplasmal conjunctivitis with one of the strategies. Single-sex flocks were built by introducing only seronegative wild-caught birds showing no clinical signs of conjunctivitis and covering their outdoor flight cages with netting to prevent interaction with other wild birds although only the female flocks were initially treated with a 6-wk course of tylosin tartrate (0.3 mg/ml). The female flocks never developed conjunctivitis although the disease did develop in the male flocks. Furthermore, serologic assessments of the healthy flock by serum plate agglutination assays for MG indicated that the females remained free of MG infection in the final 7 wk of the study, during which they were unmedicated. We conclude that any low-level MG infection not diagnosed by the initial test for seroconversion was cleared by the prolonged drug treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)948-952
Number of pages5
JournalAvian Diseases
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 1 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • Carpodacus mexicanus
  • Conjunctivitis
  • Flock management
  • House finch
  • Mycoplasma gallisepticum
  • Tylosin tartrate

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Animals
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)


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