A Quantitative PCR Protocol for Detection of Oxyspirura petrowi in Northern Bobwhites (Colinus virginianus)
Oxyspirura petrowi is a parasitic nematode that infects wild birds. This parasite has a broad host range, but has recently been reported in high prevalences from native Galliformes species in the United States. In order to better understand the impact O. petrowi has on wild bird populations, we developed a quantitative PCR protocol to detect infections in wild northern bobwhites (Colinus virginianus). We used paired fecal and cloacal swab samples from wild caught and experimentally infected northern bobwhites and matching fecal float data from experimentally infected birds to validate our assay. Overall we detected more positive birds from fecal samples than the paired cloacal swabs and there was strong agreement between the qPCR results from fecal samples and from fecal flotation (84%; κ = 0.69 [0.53–0.84 95% CI]). We also detected O. petrowi DNA in ten replicates of samples spiked with one O. petrowi egg. This qPCR assay is an effective assay to detect O. petrowi infections in wild birds. Our results suggest that fecal samples are the most appropriate sample for detecting infections; although, cloacal swabs can be useful for determining if O. petrowi is circulating in a population.