Health Survey of Flightless Cormorants (Phalacrocorax harrisi) and Galapagos Penguins (Spheniscus mendiculus) in the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
American Association of Zoo Veterinarians Conference 2005

Erika K. Travis1,2, DVM; F. Hernan Vargas3,4, MSc; Jane Merkel1,5, BS, RVT; Nicole L. Gottdenker6, DVM, MS, DACVP; Gustavo Jiménez Uzcátegui4, DMVZ-VFS; R. Eric Miller1, DVM, DACZM; Patricia G. Parker1,5, PhD

1Saint Louis Zoo, Saint Louis, MO, USA; 2College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO, USA; 3Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, University of Oxford, Tubney, Oxfordshire, UK; 4Charles Darwin Research Station, Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz Island, Galápagos, Ecuador; 5Department of Biology, University of Missouri, Saint Louis, MO, USA; 6Institute of Ecology, University of Georgia, Athens, GA, USA


Since 2001, the Saint Louis Zoo, the University of Missouri–Saint Louis, the Charles Darwin Research Station, and the Galapagos National Park have collaborated on an avian health survey of multiple endemic species in the Galapagos Islands.1-3 As part of this survey, flightless cormorants (Phalacrocorax harrisi) and Galapagos penguins (Spheniscus mendiculus) have been evaluated every 6 mo since August 2003, with the goal of determining baseline hematology and biochemistry values, as well as disease prevalence. Morphologic data, blood, feces, conjunctival-choanal-cloacal swabs, and ectoparasite samples have been systematically collected. This is the first time that comprehensive health evaluations have been conducted on the endangered flightless cormorant and Galapagos penguin.

Many of the 70 blood samples collected from the cormorants in 2003, and the 134 blood samples collected from the penguins in 2003 and 2004 have undergone complete blood counts (CBC), biochemistry analysis, and blood smear evaluations for hemoparasites, as well as extensive disease serology. Serologic tests were conducted for 14 different viruses, including West Nile virus, and for Chlamydophila psittaci. Both bird populations appeared healthy on visual exam without clinically significant findings on CBC or biochemistries, except for some degree of eosinophilia. Flightless cormorants were seropositive for adenovirus type 1. Antibodies for C. psittaci were detected in both cormorants and penguins, while antigen was detected in the cormorants. Blood smears for many birds of both species revealed microfilarids.

Literature Cited

1.  Padilla, L.R., K.P. Huyvaert, J. Merkel, R.E. Miller, and P.G. Parker. 2003. Hematology, plasma chemistry, serology and Chlamydophila status of the waved albatross (Phoebastria irrorata) on the Galápagos Islands. J. Zoo Wildl. Med. 34:278–283.

2.  Padilla, L.R., D. Santiago, J.F. Merkel, R.E. Miller, and P.G. Parker. 2004. Survey for Haemoproteus spp. Trichomonas gallinae, Chlamydophila psittaci, and Salmonella spp. in Galápagos Islands columbiformes. J. Zoo Wildl. Med. 35:60–64.

3.  Thiel, T., N.K. Whiteman, A. Tirape, M.I. Maquero, V. Cedeno, T. Walsh, G. Jimenez, and P.G. Parker. 2005. Characterization of canarypox-like viruses infecting endemic birds in the Galápagos Islands. J. Wildl. Dis. (In press).


Speaker Information
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Erika K. Travis, DVM
Saint Louis Zoo
Saint Louis, MO, USA

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