Avian Malaria & ectoparasite prevalence in South Africa: do transformed habitats and altered bird communities drive emergence of disease?

11 March 2015 @ 16:30 - 18:00


March 11, 2015
04:30 PM - 06:00 PM
Rm 216, Biological Sciences Building
Event Type:


Dr Unathi Heshula

Speaker: Dr Mduduzi Ndlovu (PhD) - Animal, Plant & Environmental Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand

Bird flu outbreak in 2003 highlighted the role of avian hosts as reservoirs to pathogens of human concern. Avian malaria, defined has as haemoparasitsm by Plasmodium, Leucocytozoon, and Haemoproteus spp., has also gained much attention due to recent bird distribution expansions and its effect on immunologically naive and isolated bird populations. The effect on naive hosts was highlighted in Hawaii when novel malaria transmission drastically shrank several bird populations. Though believed to be endemic in African passerines, the true burden of malaria parasitemia in their hosts is unknown. In South Africa, isolated birds like African penguins, are especially vulnerable, and birds that survive infection often have a lower overall fitness. Our research evaluates avian malaria and ectoparasite prevalence in passerine birds found inside and ouside National Parks. The study further investigates the impact of parasitsm on host immunity and body energy reserves. Findings of this research will be valuable for the ecological and veterinary monitoring of avian diseases inside and outside National Parks.

All Welcome. Refreshments will be served.

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