Novel vagrant records and occurrence of vector-borne pathogens in King Penguins (Aptenodytes patagonicus) in South Africa

Abstract

The King Penguin (Aptenodytes patagonicus) is a pelagic seabird that breeds on Subantarctic islands and is considered a rare vagrant in South Africa. From 2001 to 2017, six King Penguins were rescued along the South African coast and admitted into rehabilitation centers. These and previous records of King Penguins were obtained near the country’s major ports, which suggests that some of these birds may have been ship-assisted. One of the King Penguins evaluated in this study died shortly after being admitted to the rehabilitation center due to extensive hemorrhage caused by a long-line fishing hook, and another had a beak wound consistent with fishing hook injury. Three King Penguins were infected with the tick-borne protozoan Babesia peircei and two died as a result of babesiosis. One King Penguin was diagnosed with an infection by Rickettsia-like organisms. Pox-like lesions, presumably mosquito-borne, developed on the eyelid skin of one penguin. Additionally, one of two King Penguins permanently captive in Cape Town during the same period also presented a lethal case of spirochetosis, which was possibly tick-borne. These novel records of vector-borne pathogens in King Penguins highlight the risk of seabird rehabilitation centers to serve as potential sources of pathogens to vagrant species, while also illustrating the opportunities that these centers provide for pathogen research and surveillance.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3

References

  1. Africa Ports (2017) South African ports. http://africaports.co.za/. Accessed 10 June 2017

  2. BirdLife International (2016) Aptenodytes patagonicus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. e.T22697748A40170769. Accessed 06 April 2017

  3. Bost CA, Delord K, Barbraud B, Cherel Y, Pütz K, Cotté C, Péron C, Weimerskirch H (2014) King penguin (Aptenodytes patagonicus). In: García-Borboroglu P, Boersma PD (eds) Penguins: Natural history and conservation. University of Washington Press, Seattle, pp 7–21

    Google Scholar 

  4. Brandão ML, Moreira J, Luque JL (2014) Checklist of Platyhelminthes, Acanthocephala, Nematoda and Arthropoda parasitizing penguins of the world. Check List 10:562–573

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Chastel C, Demazure M, Chastel O, Genevois F, Legrand MC, Grulet O, Odermatt M, Le Goff F (1993) A Rickettsia-like organism from Ixodes uriae ticks collected on the Kerguelen Islands (French Subantarctic Territories). Acta Virol 37:11–20

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  6. Cooper J (1978) First definite record of the King Penguin for continental Africa. Ostrich 49:45

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Dietrich M, Lebarbenchon C, Jaeger A, Le Rouzic C, Bastien M, Lagadec E, McCoy KD, Pascalis H, Le Corre M, Dellagi K, Tortosa P (2014) Rickettsia spp. in seabird ticks from Western Indian Ocean islands, 2011–2012. Emerg Infect Dis 20:838–842

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  8. Earlé RA, Huchzermeyer FW, Bennett GF, Brossy JJ (1993) Babesia peircei sp. nov. from the jackass penguin. S Afr J Zool 28:88–90

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Enticott JW (1986) Distribution of penguins at sea in the southeastern Atlantic and southwestern Indian oceans. Cormorant 13:118–142

    Google Scholar 

  10. Fantham HB, Porter A (1944) On a Plasmodium (Plasmodium relictum var. spheniscidae, n. var.), observed in four species of penguins. Proc Zool Soc London 114:279–292

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Griffiths HJ (1978) A handbook of veterinary parasitology, domestic animals of North America. University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis

    Google Scholar 

  12. Hockey PAR, Dean WRJ, Ryan PG (2005) Roberts birds of Southern Africa, 7th edn. John Voelcker Bird Book Fund, Cape Town

    Google Scholar 

  13. Jones HI (1988) Notes on parasites in penguins (Spheniscidae) and petrels (Procellariidae) in the Antarctic and Subantarctic. J Wildl Dis 24:166–167

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  14. Kane OJ, Uhart MM, Rago V, Pereda AJ, Smith JR, Van Buren A, Clark JA, Boersma PD (2012) Avian Pox in Magellanic Penguins (Spheniscus magellanicus). J Wildl Dis 48:790–794

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  15. Laird M (1952) Protozoological studies at Macquarie Island. Trans R Soc New Zeal 70:583–588

    Google Scholar 

  16. Major L, Linn ML, Slade RW, Schroder WA, Hyatt AD, Gardner J, Cowley J, Suhrbier A (2009) Ticks associated with Macquarie Island penguins carry arboviruses from four genera. PLoS ONE 4:e4375

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  17. Mediannikov O, Trape JF, Diatta G, Parola P, Fournier PE, Raoult D (2010) Rickettsia africae, Western Africa. Emerg Infect Dis 16:571–573

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  18. Meriläinen L, Herranen A, Schwarzbach A, Gilbert L (2015) Morphological and biochemical features of Borrelia burgdorferi pleomorphic forms. Microbiol 161:516–527

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Montero E, González LM, Chaparra A, Benzal J, Bertellotti M, Masero JA, Colominas-Ciuró R, Vidal V, Barbosa A (2016) First record of Babesia sp. in Antarctic penguins. Ticks Tick-borne Dis. doi:10.1016/j.ttbdis.2016.02.006

    Google Scholar 

  20. Olsén B (2007) Borrelia. In: Thomas NJ, Hunter DB, Atkinson CT (eds) Infectious diseases of wild birds. Blackwell Publishing, Ames, pp 341–351

    Google Scholar 

  21. Olsén B, Duffy DC, Jaenson TGT, Gylfe A, Bonnedahl J, Bergström S (1995) Transhemispheric exchange of Lyme disease spirochetes by seabirds. J Clin Microbiol 33:3270–3274

    PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  22. Parsons NJ, Gous TA, Schaefer AM, Vanstreels RET (2016) Health evaluation of African penguins (Spheniscus demersus) in southern Africa. Onderstepoort J Vet Sci 83:a1147

    Google Scholar 

  23. Parsons NJ, Voogt NM, Schaefer AM, Peirce MA, Vanstreels RET (2017) Occurrence of blood parasites in seabirds admitted for rehabilitation in the Western Cape, South Africa, 2001–2013. Vet Parasitol 233:52–61

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  24. Peirce MA (2000) A taxonomic review of avian piroplasms of the genus Babesia Starcovici, 1893 (Apicomplexa: Piroplasmorida: Babesiidae). J Nat Hist 34:317–332

    Article  Google Scholar 

  25. Peirce MA, Prince PA (1980) Hepatozoon albatrossi sp. nov. (Eucoccida: Hepatozoidae) from Diomedea spp. in the Antarctic. J Nat Hist 14:447–452

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. Penrith ML, Huchzermeyer FW, De Wet SC, Penrith MJ (1994) Concurrent infection with Clostridium and Plasmodium in a captive king penguin Aptenodytes patagonicus. Av Pathol 23:373–380

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  27. Ross GJB, Cockcroft VG (1985) Second record of a King Penguin Aptenodytes patagonicus ashore in South Africa, with notes on moult. Cormorant 13:69–70

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  28. Ryan P (2015) King penguin at Cape Point. Promerops 302:27

    Google Scholar 

  29. Schramm F, Gauthier-Clerc M, Fournier JC, McCoy KD, Barthel C, Postic D, Handrich Y, Le Maho Y, Jaulhac B (2014) First detection of Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato DNA in king penguins (Aptenodytes patagonicus halli). Ticks Tick-borne Dis 5:939–942

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  30. Sekeyová Z, Mediannikov O, Roux V, Subramanian G, Spitalská E, Kristofík J, Darolová A, Raoult D (2012) Identification of Rickettsia africae and Wolbachia sp. in Ceratophyllus garei fleas from passerine birds migrated from Africa. Vector-borne Zoonot Dis 12:539–543

    Article  Google Scholar 

  31. Van Riper C III, Forrester DJ (2007) Avian Pox. In: Thomas NJ, Hunter DB, Atkinson CT (eds) Infectious diseases of wild birds. Blackwell, Ames, pp 131–176

    Google Scholar 

  32. Vanstreels RET, Braga EM, Catão-Dias JL (2016) Blood parasites of penguins: a critical review. Parasitol 143:931–956

    Article  Google Scholar 

  33. Yabsley MJ, Parsons NJ, Horne EC, Shock BC, Purdee M (2012) Novel relapsing fever Borrelia detected in African penguins (Spheniscus demersus) admitted to two rehabilitation centers in South Africa. Parasitol Res 110:1125–1130

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgements

We would like to thank the staff and volunteers of SANCCOB. SANCCOB is supported by a wide range of donors, including the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), Hans Hoheisen Charitable Trust and the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund (NLDTF). We are grateful to Juanita Raath, Claudio Arroyo, Luciano Bugalho, Sândara Sguario, Trudy Malan, Hayley McLellan, Jennifer Olbers, David Cooper, Fiona McKay, Ian Espie and Tracy Shaw (National Zoological Gardens of South Africa), Julie Napier (Henry Doorly Zoo), Liezl Pretorius and Klemens Pütz. This research is supported by the Sea Research Foundation (Mystic Aquarium), the Georgia Aquarium and Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior (CAPES). King Penguin distribution data was obtained through the IUCN Red List website.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Nola J. Parsons.

Electronic supplementary material

Below is the link to the electronic supplementary material.

Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 150 kb)

Supplementary material 2 (DOCX 7264 kb)

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Parsons, N.J., Gous, T.A., Cranfield, M.R. et al. Novel vagrant records and occurrence of vector-borne pathogens in King Penguins (Aptenodytes patagonicus) in South Africa. Polar Biol 41, 79–86 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00300-017-2171-7

Download citation

Keywords

  • Blood parasite
  • Ectoparasite
  • Fisheries by-catch
  • Geographic distribution
  • Southern Ocean
  • Spheniscidae