We report malaria parasite infection (Plasmodium spp.) and associated mortality in a Common Loon (Gavia immer) found dead on Lake Umbagog in New Hampshire, US. Necropsy findings showed the bird to be in good body condition but with pericardial edema and splenomegaly. Histopathological examination of brain and heart revealed intraendothelial and intrahistiocytic proliferation of Plasmodium merozoites with myocarditis. By PCR, the presence of Plasmodium parasites was confirmed from all tissues screened including spleen, muscle, and kidney. Sequencing of nested-PCR products revealed two different Plasmodium lineages, CATUST05 and PADOM11, indicating a mixed malaria parasite infection. Clinical findings strongly support malaria-induced mortality in a Common Loon.
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Vol. 53 • No. 4