To determine the prevalence of blood parasites with regard to country of origin in a population of falcons kept in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), 432 falcons of 3 different species and 2 hybrid species originating from Asia, Europe, and the United States were examined. Birds were divided into 2 groups. Group 1 comprised 323 birds examined immediately after arrival in the UAE. Blood parasites were detected in 6.8% of birds. Group 2 comprised 109 birds kept longer than 5 months in the UAE; of these, 15.6% were positive for blood parasites. No hybrids (captive bred birds from the United States or Germany) were positive in group 1, whereas 18.2% of the gyrfalcon/saker and 5.9% of the gyrfalcon/peregrine hybrids in group 2 were infected with blood parasites. Wild-caught birds from Asia were positive in both groups. In total, 39 (9%) of the 432 falcons examined were infected with blood parasites. The blood parasites detected were identified as Haemoproteus tinnunculi (5.3%), Haemoproteus brachiatus (0.9%), Leucocytozoon toddi (0.9%), and rickettsia-like parasites (1.9%). This study appears to be the first to investigate the prevalence of blood parasites within the UAE with regard to the origin of the birds. Additionally, it is the first report of H brachiatus in a saker falcon (Falco cherrug). No correlations were found between infection with a blood parasite and clinical disease in the birds in this study.
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Vol. 22 • No. 3