Haemosporidian infection in captive masked bobwhite quail (Colinus virginianus ridgwayi), an endangered subspecies of the northern bobwhite quail

M. Andreína Pacheco, Ananias A. Escalante, Michael M. Garner, Gregory A. Bradley, Roberto F. Aguilar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

25 Scopus citations

Abstract

The avian haemosporidian parasites (phylum Apicomplexa) are taxonomically diverse and cosmopolitan in distribution; infecting most bird families. Sources of concern are reports of clinical haemosporidian infections in birds kept as part of zoo and aviary collections. Recently, severe and acute mortality episodes have been reported in masked bobwhite quail (Colinus virginianus ridgwayi), an endangered subspecies from the American Southwest. Two hundred and five eggs of the captive flock held in Arivaca, Arizona, were hatched at a zoo in the American Southwest. Thirty-four sub-adult or adult animals had lesions associated with tissue phases of haemoparasites, especially vasculitis, ventricular leiomyositis and ulcerative pododermatitis. Molecular techniques applied to blood collected from the zoo's last twelve remaining animals resulted in the detection of a Plasmodium juxtanucleare-like and Haemoproteus sp. parasites. A Raven (Corvus corax), in a contiguous exhibit, was positive for the same P. juxtanucleare-like parasite, but remained asymptomatic for three years following detection. These findings indicate that other birds in the exhibit within the zoo premises could act as reservoirs. We conclude that haemosporidian infections could be a factor in the demise of the captive masked bobwhite quails housed at the zoo. We suggest that active surveillance for haemoporidian parasites should be incorporated as a precaution to ex situ conservation efforts of susceptible endangered species.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)113-120
Number of pages8
JournalVeterinary Parasitology
Volume182
Issue number2-4
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 15 2011

Keywords

  • Cytochrome b gene
  • Haemoproteus
  • Haemosporidia
  • Masked bobwhite quail
  • Plasmodium
  • Ulcerative pododermatitis
  • Vasculitis
  • Ventricular leiomyositis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • veterinary(all)

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