Evaluation of Fibrinogen and Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate as Indicators of Inflammation in the African Penguin (Spheniscus demersus)
American Association of Zoo Veterinarians Conference 2019
Barbara J. Mangold, DVM; Jennifer E. Flower, MS, DVM, DACZM; Anne L. Gilewski, LVT; Allison D. Tuttle, DVM, DACZM
Mystic Aquarium, Mystic, CT, USA


The use of fibrinogen and erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) as diagnostic tools have been studied in both clinically healthy and diseased avian species, as both parameters are non-specific markers of inflammation. Increases in fibrinogen can be seen in inflammatory pathologies associated with trauma, neoplasia, and sepsis, and ESR has been shown to increase in pigeons infected with Plasmodium relictum.2,3 Correlations between hyperfibrinogenemia and heterophilia in avian species have been documented to be associated with bacterial infections.1 The goal of this study is to establish baseline levels for ESR and fibrinogen in an aquarium population of African penguins (Spheniscus demersus) and determine if either of these parameters correlate with other indicators of inflammation in this species, including white blood cell count (WBC), absolute heterophil count, total protein concentration, and packed cell volume. Sixty-two samples from 25 penguins were evaluated. Fibrinogen ranged from 240–714 mg/dl with a mean of 403 mg/dl. ESR ranged from 0–4 mm/hour, with a mean of 0.59 mm/hour. Preliminary data show a positive correlation between WBC count and fibrinogen (r=0.42) and absolute heterophil count and fibrinogen (r=0.57). No other positive correlations were identified. Results of this study suggest that fibrinogen may be a useful adjunct diagnostic for measuring inflammation in this species.

Literature Cited

1.  Hawkey C, Hart MG. An analysis of the incidence of hyperfibrinogenaemia in birds with bacterial infections. Avian Pathol. 1988;17:427–432.

2.  McSherry BJ, Horney FD, Degroot JJ. Plasma fibrinogen levels in normal and sick cows. Can J Comp Med. 1970;34:191–197.

3.  Redmond WB, Runyon LC, Pollitzer WS. Erythrocyte sedimentation rate in pigeons infected with Plasmodium relictum. J Parasitol. 1951;37:48–55.


Speaker Information
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Barbara J. Mangold, DVM
Mystic Aquarium
Mystic, CT, USA

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