Avian malaria associated with Plasmodium spp. infection in a penguin in Jeju Island

  • Ko, Kyeong-Nam (College of Veterinary Medicine, Cheju National University) ;
  • Kang, Sang-Chul (Preclinical Research Center, Chemon Inc.) ;
  • Jung, Ji-Youl (College of Veterinary Medicine, Cheju National University) ;
  • Bae, Jong-Hee (College of Veterinary Medicine, Cheju National University) ;
  • Kim, Jae-Hoon (College of Veterinary Medicine, Cheju National University)
  • Accepted : 2008.05.19
  • Published : 2008.08.01


Plasmodium spp. in domestic and wild birds are microscopic, intracellular parasitic protozoa within the blood cells and tissues cause avian malaria. A 17-month-old Magellan penguin (Spheniscus magellanicus) with a clinical signs of anorexia, depression, and respiratory distress for 3 days was submitted to the Pathology Department of Veterinary Medicine, Cheju National University in October 2005. It was born and reared in the Jeju Island. Grossly, the liver was enlarged, pale and friable. The spleen was also enlarged with dark red coloration and friable. Histopathologically, the lesions in the liver were characterized by multifocal infiltration of macrophages and lymphocytes especially in perivascular regions. The schizonts of Plasmodium spp. contained up to 30 merozoites were found in numerous infiltrated mononuclear cells. Similarly, histiocytic cells were proliferated in red pulp of spleen and the schizonts were found in these cells. Numerous dark brown pigments were widely distributed in the liver and spleen. The result of the nested polymerase chain reaction clarified the causative agent of this case was Plasmodium spp.. This is the first report for the outbreak of avian malaria caused by Plasmodium spp. in a penguin that was born and reared in Jeju Island in Korea.


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