Fatal avian malaria in captive Atlantic puffins (Fratercula arctica) in Switzerland.

Meister, Seraina L.; Richard, Olivia K.; Hoby, Stefan; Gurtner, Corinne; Basso, Walter U. (2021). Fatal avian malaria in captive Atlantic puffins (Fratercula arctica) in Switzerland. International journal for parasitology. Parasites and wildlife, 14, pp. 97-106. Elsevier 10.1016/j.ijppaw.2020.12.007

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Avian malaria is a vector-borne disease caused by Plasmodium species, which may affect a broad spectrum of bird families worldwide. In most endemic and migratory birds, Plasmodium infections seem not to cause severe harm; however, non-indigenous species kept in human care such as penguins may experience high morbidity and mortality rates. Fatal avian malaria may also occur in other non-native seabirds such as puffins (Fratercula spp.), but reported cases are scarce. The aim of this study was to analyze seven cases of sudden death in captive Atlantic puffins (Fratercula arctica) at Berne Animal Park in Switzerland between 2010 and 2020, and to determine the involvement of haemosporidian parasites in the fatal outcome. In all cases, lymphoplasmacytic inflammation, necrotic lesions in several organs and presence of protozoan stages within tissues/erythrocytes or accumulation of iron-based pigment were observed histologically. A one-step multiplex PCR designed to simultaneously detect and discriminate haemosporidia belonging to the genera Plasmodium, Haemoproteus and Leucocytozoon, and a nested PCR detecting Plasmodium and Haemoproteus infections were performed on DNA extracted from formalin-fixed and paraffin-embedded (FFPE) or fresh liver and spleen tissues from five and two birds, respectively. Plasmodium spp. DNA was detected in the tissues from six of seven birds by the one-step multiplex PCR and in five of seven individuals by the nested PCR protocol. Direct sequencing of the amplification products allowed the molecular identification of Plasmodium relictum SGS1 as the involved species in three individuals and Plasmodium matutinum LINN1 in two of these fatal cases. In one bird, no haemosporidian DNA could be amplified from FFPE tissues despite of suggestive histopathological findings. These results indicate that avian malaria represents an important cause of death in captive puffins and it should be considered as a differential diagnosis in unclear or fatal cases in this threatened bird species.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)

Division/Institute:

05 Veterinary Medicine > Research Foci > Host-Pathogen Interaction
05 Veterinary Medicine > Department of Infectious Diseases and Pathobiology (DIP) > Institute of Parasitology
05 Veterinary Medicine > Department of Infectious Diseases and Pathobiology (DIP) > Institute of Animal Pathology
05 Veterinary Medicine > Department of Infectious Diseases and Pathobiology (DIP)

UniBE Contributor:

Meister, Seraina Luzia; Richard, Olivia; Gurtner, Corinne and Basso, Walter Ubaldo

Subjects:

500 Science > 570 Life sciences; biology
500 Science > 590 Animals (Zoology)
600 Technology > 630 Agriculture

ISSN:

2213-2244

Publisher:

Elsevier

Language:

English

Submitter:

Achim Braun Parham

Date Deposited:

08 Apr 2021 11:40

Last Modified:

08 Apr 2021 11:40

Publisher DOI:

10.1016/j.ijppaw.2020.12.007

PubMed ID:

33552896

Uncontrolled Keywords:

Atlantic puffin Avian malaria Fratercula arctica Nested PCR One-step multiplex PCR Plasmodium

BORIS DOI:

10.48350/153518

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/153518

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