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Fatal toxoplasmosis in free-ranging endangered 'Alala from Hawaii

January 1, 2000

The ‘Alala (Corvus hawaiiensis) is the most endangered corvid in the world, and intensive efforts are being made to reintroduce it to its former native range in Hawaii. We diagnosed Toxoplasma gondii infection in five free-ranging ‘Alala. One ‘Alala, recaptured from the wild because it was underweight and depressed, was treated with diclazuril (10 mg/kg) orally for 10 days. Antibodies were measured before and after treatment by the modified agglutination test (MAT) using whole T. gondii tachyzoites fixed in formalin and mercaptoethanol. The MAT titer decreased four-fold from an initial titer of 1:1,600 with remarkable improvement in physical condition. Lesions of toxoplasmosis also were seen in two partially scavenged carcasses and in a third fresh intact carcass. Toxoplasma gondii was confirmed immunohistochemically by using anti-T. gondii specific serum. The organism was also cultured by bioassay in mice from tissues of one of these birds and the brain of a fifth ‘Alala that did not exhibit lesions. The life cycle of the parasite was experimentally completed in cats. This is the first record of toxoplasmosis in ‘Alala, and the parasite appears to pose a significant threat and management challenge to reintroduction programs for ‘Alala in Hawaii.

Publication Year 2000
Title Fatal toxoplasmosis in free-ranging endangered 'Alala from Hawaii
DOI 10.7589/0090-3558-36.2.205
Authors Thierry M. Work, J. Gregory Massey, Bruce A. Rideout, Chris H. Gardiner, David B. Ledig, O. C. H. Kwok, J. P. Dubey
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Journal of Wildlife Diseases
Index ID 70022745
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization National Wildlife Health Center