Detection and Management of Air Sac Trematodes (Szidatitrema Species) in Captive Multispecies Avian Exhibits Academic Article uri icon


  • From 2 exhibits in a zoological collection, 2 juvenile fairy bluebirds ( Irena puella ) and 1 adult blue-grey tanager (Thraupis episcopus) died within 3 months of one another. The cause of death was attributed to air sac trematodes, which were identified as Szidatitrema species based on morphology of adult trematodes and miracidia isolated from a snail intermediate host. To determine the extent of trematodiasis in the collection, individual exhibits within the same building as the original presenting cases were assessed, with birds representing 27 avian species from 9 orders. Sampling consisted of individual (n = 244) and pooled same-species group (n = 193) fecal examinations, and for some individuals, and tracheal swab (n = 106), resulting in a total of 543 samples. In addition, tracheal swabs were performed on 14 birds for comparative cytology, but no parasites were found. Flukes were positively identified in 4 tracheal swab samples (4%), 37 individual fecal samples (15%), and 52 of the group fecal samples (27%). When results of the swab method were compared with those of fecal examination, fecal testing was significantly associated (P < .001) with positive results. Based on these results, a screening process was instituted of 3- or 4-day combined fecal samples evaluated by both sedimentation and flotation techniques 2 weeks before outgoing shipments or intrazoo transfers of birds housed in exhibits known to have snail populations. Snail control methods also were initiated in all exhibits. Treatment with praziquantel was carried out on a case-by-case basis, and included oral, parenteral, and nebulized administration. Although control measures were expected to manage the infection and reduce distribution of the parasite to other collections, complete eradication of trematodes in the population is unlikely.

altmetric score

  • 0.75

author list (cited authors)

  • Delaski, K. M., Nelson, S., Dronen, N. O., Craig, T. M., Pond, J., & Gamble, K. C.

citation count

  • 4

publication date

  • December 2015