Although well known as a widespread parasitic disease of columbids and birds of prey, there have been few studies of trichomonosis in populations of wild birds. In Mauritius, trichomonosis has been highlighted as a major threat to an endangered endemic, the Pink Pigeon (Neosoenas [Columba] mayeri). In this study, we examined the role that populations of other columbids in Mauritius might be playing as infectious reservoirs of the causal flagellate protozoan, Trichomonas gallinae. We screened 296 wild individuals of three columbid species (Madagascan Turtle Dove [Streptopelia picturata], Spotted Dove [Streptopelia chinensis], and Zebra Dove [Geopelia striata]) between September 2002 and April 2004. Prevalence varied significantly among species (ranging from 19% in S. chinensis to 59% in G. striata) and between S. picturata sampled from upland and coastal sites; S. picturata from upland sites (>500 m) were significantly less likely to be infected with T. gallinae than those from lowland sites (<50 m; 62% and 27% prevalence, respectively). There was no significant difference in the prevalence of T. gallinae at sites where Pink Pigeons were also present compared to those sampled at sites without Pink Pigeons. We show that T. gallinae infection prevalence is higher at sites and times of warmer temperatures and lower rainfall.
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Vol. 43 • No. 3