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Diversity and prevalence of hemoparasites of wading birds in southern Florida, USA

Coker, Sarah M., Hernandez, Sonia M., Kistler, Whitney M., Curry, Shannon E., Welch, Catharine N., Barron, Heather W., Harsch, Stefan, Murray, Maureen H., Yabsley, Michael J.
International journal for parasitology 2017 v.6 no.3 pp. 220-225
Butorides virescens, Eudocimus albus, Platalea ajaja, Plegadis falcinellus, blood, genetic variation, host-parasite relationships, parasites, water birds, Florida
Relatively few studies on hemoparasites have been conducted on wading birds in the families Ardeidae and Threskiornithidae (order Pelecaniformes), especially in the United States. In this study, we obtained baseline data on the prevalence and genetic diversity of haemosporidian parasites in wading birds opportunistically sampled from southern Florida, USA. We detected blood parasites in White Ibis (Eudocimus albus), Glossy Ibis (Plegadis falcinellus), Green Heron (Butorides virescens), and Roseate Spoonbill (Platalea ajaja) with several novel host-parasite relationships. Infected birds had low parasitemias (average 0.77%, range 0–4%) suggesting that infections were chronic. Despite the low sample sizes for several of our sampled species, these data highlight the diversity of parasites in this understudied group of birds and suggest that additional studies are needed to investigate the potential impacts of these parasites on their health, especially since southern Florida is becoming increasingly urbanized which can alter parasite transmission or host susceptibility.