The Southern giant petrel (Macronectes giganteus) is declining over much of its range and currently is listed as vulnerable to extinction by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Island-specific breeding colonies near Palmer Station, Antarctica, have been monitored for over 30 years, and because this population continues to increase, it is critically important to conservation. In austral summer 2004, six diseased giant petrel chicks were observed in four of these colonies. Diseased chicks were 6a??9 weeks old and had multiple proliferative nodules on their bills and skin. One severely affected chick was found dead on the nest and was salvaged for necropsy. Histopathological examination of nodules from the dead chick revealed epithelial cell hyperplasia and hypertrophy with numerous eosinophilic intracytoplasmic inclusions (B??llinger bodies). A poxvirus was isolated from multiple nodules. Poxviral infection has not been reported in this species, and the reason for its emergence and its potential impact on the population are not yet known.
Additional Publication Details
Cutaneous and diphtheritic avian poxvirus infection in a nestling Southern Giant Petrel (Macronectes giganteus) from Antarctica