Fatal hemoprotozoal infections in multiple avian species in a zoological park. Academic Article uri icon


  • Over a 3-yr span, two juvenile lesser flamingos (Phoeniconaias minor), two green jays (Cyanocorax yncas glaucescens), and two Montezuma oropendolas (Psarocolius montezuma) died peracutely with no premonitory signs at a zoological park in the southern United States. At necropsy, the birds were in excellent body condition. Except for one green jay, the coelomic cavities were filled with a dark serosanguineous fluid. Splenomegaly and hepatomegaly were present. The livers were tan to purple with numerous, randomly distributed red-to-black foci, ranging in size from 1 to 4 mm. The predominant histopathologic finding, except in one green jay, was large protozoal cysts in the hepatic parenchyma. Histologically, the protozoal cysts were restricted to the liver, and none were identified in the skeletal muscle, spleen, or other tissues. Frozen tissue samples harvested at necropsy had a nested polymerase chain reaction assay performed to amplify the mitochondrial cytochrome B gene of the protozoa. The amplified gene sequences were compared with reference cytochrome B gene sequences for avian Plasmodium spp., Haemoproteus spp., and Leucocytozoon spp. The protozoal parasite within the hepatic parenchyma from the Montezuma oropendolas and the lesser flamingos was identified as Haemoproteus spp. Both green jays had Plasmodium spp. isolated from the submitted tissue samples. The peracute nature of the infections precluded any successful medical intervention, making prevention by exclusion the principal means to control hemoprotozoal transmission. There are no reports in the literature documenting identified fatal hemoprotozoal infections in oropendolas, green jays, or lesser flamingos.

published proceedings

  • J Zoo Wildl Med

author list (cited authors)

  • Ferrell, S. T., Snowden, K., Marlar, A. B., Garner, M., & Lung, N. P.

citation count

  • 70

complete list of authors

  • Ferrell, Shannon T||Snowden, Karen||Marlar, Annajane B||Garner, Michael||Lung, Nancy P

publication date

  • June 2007