Submitted to: Journal of Parasitology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: March 5, 1996
Publication Date: N/A
Interpretive Summary: The African black footed penguin, Spheniscus demersus, is an endangered species with decreasing populations in its natural habitat on coastal islets of South Africa. Two protozoan parasites Babesia peircei and Toxoplasma gondii, can cause mortality in several avian species, including penguins. Scientists at the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center and the Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland found antibodies to Babesia peircei in sera of 65% and no antibodies to T gondii in sera of 191 adult penguins from South Africa from a rehabilitation center. These results suggest that sanitary conditions were adequate to prevent T gondii infection in penguins housed at the rehabilitation center.
Babesia peircei was extracted from nucleated erythrocytes of naturally infected Jackass penguin (Spheniscus demersus) from South Africa. Babesia peircei glycoprotein-enriched fractions were obtained by concanavalin A-Sepharose affinity column chromatography and separated by sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis. At least 14 protein bands were observed, with major protein at 25 kDa. Blood samples of 191 adult S. demersus were tested by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay utilizing B. peircei glycoprotein-enriched fractions to detect B. peircei IgG. Toxoplasma gondii antibodies were detected by the direct agglutination test using killed T. gondii tachyzoites. The samples originated from 3 groups of free-ranging penguins which were rescued after offshore oil-spill contaminations and rehabilitated at the South African National Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds