A pair of Australian black swans (Cygnus atratus) with origins in Wakefield, Virginia, USA, was admitted to the quarantine area at the Baltimore Zoo for general health assessments before housing in the collections. During the quarantine period, no clinical signs of disease were manifest; however, upon examination of a blood smear, intraerythrocytic parasites were detected and initially determined to be Haemoproteus species. Diagnostic polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and sequencing results, however, indicated that the parasites were within the genus Plasmodium. Subclinical infections with Plasmodium species in birds may affect collection management, and transmission from refractory hosts to susceptible hosts should be considered when multispecies exhibits are used. In addition, changes in the dynamics of host-vector-parasite interactions might have significant impacts on wild or domesticated populations of birds.
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Vol. 39 • No. 2