Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels

A Great Shearwater visits the USA and dies from a nematode infection

Nicole Nemeth (College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia, USA) and colleagues, writing in the Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine have conducted a post-mortem on a juvenile Great Shearwater Puffinus gravis.

The paper's abstract follows:

"A juvenile male greater shearwater (Puffinus gravis) found off the Georgia coast, United States, was lethargic, hypothermic, dehydrated, and emaciated.  It was provided with supportive care but subsequently died.  The coelomic cavity contained fibrinous fluid intermixed with hundreds of nematodes, some of which protruded through a perforation in the proventriculus.  Nematodes were embedded in the wall of the proventriculus from the lamina propria to the serosal surface and were surrounded by granulocytes, epithelioid macrophages, multinucleate giant cells, lymphocytes, and fibroplasia.  A full-thickness tear in the proventriculus was lined by heterophils and multinucleate giant cells.  The nematode histomorphology was consistent with Anisakis spp.  The definitive hosts of Anisakis spp. are marine mammals, which are infected through ingestion of parasitized fish and crustaceans. Marine birds are aberrant hosts of Anisakis spp., and young, inexperienced, immunocompromised birds might be more susceptible to severe infestations.  Fatal anisakiasis is rarely reported in birds."

A Great Shearwater at sea.  Photograph by John Graham


Nemeth, N.M., Yabsley, M. & Keel, M.K. 2012. Anisakiasis with proventricular perforation in a Greater Shearwater (Puffinus gravis) off the coast of Georgia, United States.  Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine 43: 412-415.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 28 November 2012