Oral Presentation 64th International Conference of the Wildlife Disease Association 2015

A single haplotype of Haemoproteus is widespread in white ibis (Eudocimus albus) from urban sites in southern Florida (#41)

Sarah M. Coker 1 2 , Whitney M. Kistler 1 2 , Shannon E. Curry 1 2 , Catharine N. Welch 1 2 , Heather W. Barron 3 , Stefan Harsch 4 , Sonia M. Hernandez 1 2 , Michael J. Yabsley 1 2
  1. Daniel B. Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources , University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia, USA
  2. Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia, USA
  3. Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife, Sanibel, Florida, USA
  4. South Florida Wildlife Center, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA

Urban development in Florida has major implications for wetland dependent birds. Habitat quality and use changes can alter the exposure of animals to pathogens. White ibis (Eudocimus albus) have become increasingly urbanized with many now relying heavily on urban and suburban habitats. Avian haemosporidia parasites can cause acute disease and reduced fitness. Because southern Florida is subtropical with a high diversity of vectors, we hypothesized that there will be a high prevalence and genetic diversity of haemosporidia in white ibis and differences would exist between urban and rural birds. Blood samples from white ibis from Palm Beach (n=263), Lee (n=18), and Broward (n=18) Counties in southern Florida were tested for hemoparasites by analysis of Giemsa-stained thin blood smears and PCR. In Palm Beach (n=11 sites), Lee, and Broward (natural sites in Everglades) Counties, 68%, 61%, and 27% were positive, respectively. Sequences of 139 positives from urban and rural sites revealed a novel genetic haplotype of Haemoproteus. Morphologically, parasites were identified as H. plataleae. Parasitemias of 66 positive birds were very low (average 0.085%, range <0.001%-0.890%). No Plasmodium infections were detected in any white ibis despite a recent report of a Plasmodium sp. in a white ibis in Palm Beach and sympatric birds from Lee and Broward Counties having Haemoproteus and Plasmodium infections. Additional research is needed to determine if this Haemoproteus species has subclinical effects on ibis health and if additional Haemoproteus haplotypes orĀ Plasmodiuminfect white ibis more commonly elsewhere in the southeastern US.