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Blood parasites of penguins: a critical review


Blood parasites are considered some of the most significant pathogens for the conservation of penguins, due to the considerable morbidity and mortality they have been shown to produce in captive and wild populations of these birds. Parasites known to occur in the blood of penguins include haemosporidian protozoans (Plasmodium, Leucocytozoon, Haemoproteus), piroplamid protozoans (Babesia), kinetoplastid protozoans (Trypanosoma), spirochete bacteria (Borrelia) and nematode microfilariae. This review provides a critical and comprehensive assessment of the current knowledge on these parasites, providing an overview of their biology, host and geographic distribution, epidemiology, pathology and implications for public health and conservation.

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*Corresponding author: Laboratório de Patologia Comparada de Animais Selvagens, Departamento de Patologia, Faculdade de Medicina Veterinária e Zootecnia, Universidade de São Paulo, Av. Prof. Dr. Orlando Marques de Paiva 87, São Paulo, SP 05508-270, Brazil. E-mail:
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