Avian malaria in captive psittacine birds: detection by microscopy and 18S rRNA gene amplification

Prev Vet Med. 2009 Mar 1;88(3):220-4. doi: 10.1016/j.prevetmed.2008.09.007. Epub 2008 Oct 19.


A cross-sectional survey was conducted to estimate the occurrence of malaria infection among captive psittacine birds (n=127) from three zoological gardens in Brazil. Malaria infection was evaluated by the association of direct examination of blood smears with amplification of the 18SSU rRNA gene of the Plasmodium genus, demonstrating an overall occurrence of 36%. Most infected bird species were Amazona aestiva (28/73), Ara ararauna (6/10), and Amazona amazonica (3/10). The low parasitemias observed among the infected birds suggest a chronic infection. The sequence analyses of 10 isolates indicate a potential occurrence of four distinct Plasmodium lineages. These findings provide new data on malarial infection in captive psittacine birds, and emphasize the need for better control of importation and exportation of these birds.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • Brazil / epidemiology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • DNA, Protozoan / chemistry
  • DNA, Protozoan / genetics
  • Female
  • Malaria, Avian / epidemiology
  • Malaria, Avian / parasitology*
  • Male
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Parasitemia / epidemiology
  • Parasitemia / parasitology
  • Parasitemia / veterinary
  • Phylogeny
  • Plasmodium / genetics
  • Plasmodium / isolation & purification*
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction / veterinary
  • Psittaciformes*
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 18S / chemistry
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 18S / genetics
  • Sequence Alignment


  • DNA, Protozoan
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 18S

Associated data

  • GENBANK/EF090273
  • GENBANK/EF090274
  • GENBANK/EF090275
  • GENBANK/EF090276