The Waved Albatross (Phoebastria irrorata) is a critically endangered seabird in a rapidly shrinking population in the Galápagos Islands, Ecuador. The introduction of novel pathogens and parasites poses a threat to population persistence. Monitoring disease prevalence and guarding against the spread of such agents in endemic taxa are conservation priorities for the Galápagos, where recent increases in the prevalence of avian pox may have contributed to population declines and range contractions in other bird species. During November 2013–January 2014, we identified 14 Waved Albatross nestlings at our study site on Española Island with avian pox-like lesions and clinical signs. Other seabirds, landbirds, and adult Waved Albatrosses were apparently unaffected. Histopathology of tissue samples from five infected nestlings revealed inclusion bodies in all samples, consistent with avipoxvirus infection. We documented higher mortality (6 of 14 nestlings) in affected nestlings than in unaffected young in this small outbreak of avian pox, the first report of its kind in the world's only tropical albatross.
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Vol. 53 • No. 4