In November 1993, unusual mortality occurred among endangered Laysan ducks on Laysan Island, one of the remote refugia of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands National Wildlife Refuge (USA). Ten live ducks were emaciated, and blood samples documented anemia, heterophilia, and eosinophilia. Pathology in 13 duck carcasses revealed emaciation, marked thickening of the proventricular wall, abundant mucus, and nodules in the gastrointestinal tract. Histology revealed granulomata associated with nematodes in the proventriculus, small intestines, and body walls of nine of 10 ducks examined on histology. We suspect that low rainfall and low food abundance that year contributed to enhanced pathogenicity of parasite infection, either through increased exposure or decreased host resistance. Because the Laysan duck is found only on Laysan island and is critically endangered, translocation of this species to other islands is being considered. Given that we have not seen pathology associated with Echinuria spp. in native waterfowl on other Hawaiian Islands and given the parasite's potential to cause significant lesions in Laysan ducks, it will be important to prevent the translocation of Echinuria spp.
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Vol. 40 • No. 1