Avian pox is an enveloped double-stranded DNA virus that is mechanically transmitted via arthropod vectors or mucosal membrane contact with infectious particles or birds. Magellanic Penguins (Spheniscus magellanicus) from two colonies (Punta Tombo and Cabo Dos Bahías) in Argentina showed sporadic, nonepidemic signs of avian pox during five and two of 29 breeding seasons (1982– 2010), respectively. In Magellanic Penguins, avian pox expresses externally as wart-like lesions around the beak, flippers, cloaca, feet, and eyes. Fleas (Parapsyllus longicornis) are the most likely arthropod vectors at these colonies. Three chicks with cutaneous pox-like lesions were positive for Avipoxvirus and revealed phylogenetic proximity with an Avipoxvirus found in Black-browed Albatross (Thalassarche melanophrys) from the Falkland Islands in 1987. This proximity suggests a long-term circulation of seabird Avipoxviruses in the southwest Atlantic. Avian pox outbreaks in these colonies primarily affected chicks, often resulted in death, and were not associated with handling, rainfall, or temperature.
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Vol. 48 • No. 3