We describe a new species of piroplasm from brown boobies (Sula leucogaster) on Sand Island, Johnston Atoll National Wildlife Refuge, central Pacific. Mean parasitemia in adults and chicks was less than 1%, with the parasitemia in chicks significantly greater than in adults. There was no significant relation between the age of chicks and the degree of parasitemia. Parasitized red cells and red cell nuclei were significantly smaller than those of unparasitized cells, and infected birds appeared clinically normal. Prevalence of the parasite in chicks (54%) was significantly greater than in adults (13%), and the geographic distribution of parasitized chicks was skewed toward the eastern end of Sand Island. On the basis of morphologic characteristics, we named it Babesia poelea. The specific name is a concatenation of the Hawaiian names for dark (po'ele) and booby ('a). This is the second documentation of an endemic avian hemoparasite in seabirds from the central Pacific.
Additional Publication Details
Description and epizootiology of Babesia poelea n. sp. in brown boobies (Sula leucogaster (Boddaert)) on Sand Island, Johnston Atoll, Central Pacific