Fungal Infections in Zoo Animals of the Royal Zoological Society of Antwerp
American Association of Zoo Veterinarians Conference 2013
Francis Vercammen1, DVM; Luc Bauwens1; Lieve Stas1; Tania Bus1; Redgi De Deken2, DVM, PhD; Jef Brandt1, DVM, PhD
1Veterinary Medicine, Centre for Research and Conservation, Royal Zoological Society of Antwerp, Belgium; 2Department of Animal Health, Institute of Tropical Medicine, Antwerp, Belgium


Virology, bacteriology and parasitology appear to dominate modern veterinary clinical practice. Coles lists 78 viral, 29 bacterial, 49 parasitic and 7 mycotic infectious avian diseases, the latter being very important in the differential diagnosis, specifically in birds where aspergillosis is frequently diagnosed.1,2 Trying to evaluate the impact of fungal infections on zoo animals, the present retrospective study was carried out in the Royal Zoological Society of Antwerp. During the last 34 y, approximately 42,000 animals were born in the zoo or were brought in from other zoos (i.e., 4,000 reptiles, 4,000 fishes, 4,000 amphibia, 10,000 mammals and 20,000 birds). Fungal infections causing dermatological or systemic disease in all 5 animal orders were demonstrated in a total of 675 samples, corresponding with an overall prevalence of 1.6%. These samples were from: 5 amphibia, 26 fishes, 49 reptiles, 150 (22%) mammals and 445 (66%) birds, in total 169 (25%) from living animals and 506 (75%) from dead animals. Fungal infection was 50% more prevalent in birds (2.2%) than in mammals (1.5%). More than half (56%) of all infections were due to Aspergillus species (predominantly A. fumigatus), of which 93% occurred in birds (i.e., 24% gallinaceous birds, 15% geese and ducks, 14% penguins, 9% songbirds, 8% parrots, 5% turacos and 4% birds of prey). Although the overall prevalence may not seem very high, mortality due to fungi is important bearing in mind that these samples came from 25% live animals and 75% dead animals.

Literature Cited

1.  Coles BH. Infectious diseases of birds. In: Coles, B.H. (ed.). Essentials of Avian Medicine & Surgery. Oxford, UK: Blackwell Publishing; 2007:266–333.

2.  Van Wayenberghe L, Pasmans F, Beernaert LA, Haesebrouck F, Vercammen F, Verstappen F, Dorrestein GM, Klaassen CHW, Martel A. Microsatellite typing of avian clinical and environmental isolates of Aspergillus fumigatus. Avian Pathol. 2011;40:73–77.


Speaker Information
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Francis Vercammen, DVM
Veterinary Medicine, Centre for Research and Conservation
Royal Zoological Society of Antwerp

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