Mycobacterium genavense in a Black-Footed Penguin (Spheniscus demersus)
American Association of Zoo Veterinarians Conference 2008
Kristian J. Fisher1, DVM, DABVP (Feline); Drury Reavill2, DVM, DABVP (Avian), DACVP; Scott H. Weldy1, DVM; Daniel S. Bradway3, BS
1Serrano Animal and Bird Hospital, Inc., Lake Forest, CA, USA; 2Zoo/Exotic Pathology Service, West Sacramento, CA, USA; 3Washington Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory, Washington State University, Pullman, WA, USA


A 19-year-old female black-footed penguin (Spheniscus demersus) presented for labored breathing and anorexia. Radiographs revealed two soft-tissue density lesions in the left lung fields and fluid in the right. Aspergillosis was suspected. It was given 100 ml Normosol®-R (Hospira, Lake Forest, IL) subcutaneously and nebulized with 1 mg/ml amphotericin B (X-Gen, Northport, NY) for 15 minutes, and placed on oxygen. The penguin died during the night. Necropsy revealed multiple granulomas in the left lung field and the right hemicoelomic area was filled with milky fluid and a 4-cm mass. Large numbers of acid-fast positive, rod-shaped bacteria were noted in histopathologic preparations of the lung mass, liver, kidney, and spleen indicating mycobacteriosis as the primary disease. Mycobacterium genavense DNA was detected in the fixed paraffin-embedded tissues by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) using primers specific for M. genavense.7,8 Mycobacterium avium complex was not detected by PCR techniques.2 Mycobacterium genavense is one of the common causes of mycobacteriosis in avians.1,3-6 This is the first report of M. genavense in a black-footed penguin.

Literature Cited

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3.  Phalen DN. Avian mycobacteriosis. In: Bonagura FD, ed. Kirk’s Current Veterinary Therapy XIII. Philadelphia, PA: WB Saunders; 2000:1116–1118.

4.  Porataels F, Realini L, Bauwens L, Hirschel B, Meyers WM, de Meurichy W. Mycobacteriosis caused by Mycobacterium genavense in birds kept in a zoo: 11-year survey. J Clin Microbiol. 1996;2:319–323.

5.  Schrenzel M, Nicolas M, Witte C, Papendick R, Tucker T, Keener L, et al. Molecular epidemiology of Mycobacterium avium subsp. avium and Mycobacterium intracellulare in captive birds. Vet Microbiol. 2008;126:122–131.

6.  Tell LA, Cromie RL. Mycobacteriosis in birds. Rev Sci Tech. 2001;1:180–203.

7.  Tell LA, Foley J, Needham ML, Walker RL. Comparison of four rapid DNA extraction techniques for conventional polymerase chain reaction testing of three Mycobacterium spp. that affect birds. Avian Dis. 2003;4:1486–1490.

8.  Tell LA, Leutenegger CM, Larsen RS, Agnew DW, Keener L, Needham ML, Rideout BA. Real-time polymerase chain reaction testing for the detection of Mycobacterium genavense and Mycobacterium avium complex species in avian samples. Avian Dis. 2003;4:1406–1415.


Speaker Information
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Kristian J. Fisher, DVM, DABVP (Feline)
Serrano Animal and Bird Hospital, Inc.
Lake Forest, CA, USA

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