Vibrio spp. are associated with waterbirds mainly in temperate latitudes. We evaluated the prevalence and distribution of Vibrio spp. from fecal samples of resident and migratory aquatic birds collected during October 2011 and March 2012 at two coastal sites in the tropical southern Caribbean Sea. We amplified DNA by PCR in 40% of samples, resulting in 47% and 36% estimated prevalence for resident and migratory birds in Cuare Wildlife Refuge, and 33% and 44% in Margarita Island, respectively. We found nontoxigenic Vibrio cholerae in Cuare Wildlife Refuge with a higher prevalence in resident birds (18%). Our PCR results for Vibrio and V. cholerae were not significantly different between sites or bird migratory status. The 16S rRNA phylogenetic analysis sequences from fecal samples from Cuare Wildlife Refuge were highly similar to V. cholerae and Vibrio vulnificus, whereas sequences from Margarita Island samples formed clusters with species related to the Harveyi clade. Our findings indicate that several species of Vibrio are common in aquatic birds along the southern Caribbean Sea and contribute to our understanding of the role of birds as possible reservoirs of potentially pathogenic bacteria.
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Vol. 52 • No. 3