Malaria in birds is a disease caused by parasites called Plasmodium which are transmitted by mosquitos. This disease is globally distributed and affects many bird species. Zoo-kept penguins are particularly more susceptible to infection.
In collaboration with the Institute of Parasitology (IPZ), Vetsuisse Faculty, University of Zürich, we are investigating the transmission dynamics of avian malaria in the zoo. This project seeks to unveil the malaria parasites circulating in the zoo, the reservoir bird hosts and the vectors transmitting the disease.
Mosquito traps are set up at the zoo. For this purpose, the trapped mosquitoes and a blood sample stored in our biobank for the the penguins living at the zoo are tested for the presence of the parasites. Dead wild birds are screened for their role as reservoir hosts of infection.
To learn more about this project, visit the IPZ webpage:
The blood parasite Haemoproteus syrnii. Bild: Nemo Meier
May contract bird malaria: Humboldt penguins. Foto: Zoo Zürich, Enzo Franchini