Prevalence of Avian Haemosporidian Parasites: A Comparative Study between Resident and Migratory Birds of Iraq

Document Type : Research articles


Department of Biology, Faculty of Science, Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, Mashhad, Iran


Haemosporidians are a diverse group of vector-borne parasitic protozoa that have a global distribution and some of them live in the avian body as a benign parasite, with no symptoms. Avian Haemosporidians, include three main genera, Plasmodium, Haemoproteus, and Leucocytozoon. These blood parasites are transmitted across different regions through migratory birds. We studied the prevalence of avian haemosporidian parasites in both resident and migratory birds in the central and southern regions of Iraq. Our study represents pioneering research on Haemosporidian parasites in a wide range of avian species, including 248 samples from 47 species of both resident and migratory birds, collected from five cities in central and southern Iraq. We identified and determined the prevalence of three distinct haemosporidian genera, Haemoproteus spp., Leucocytozoon spp., and Plasmodium spp. Overall parasite infection was higher in resident hosts than in migrants. The prevalence of Plasmodium spp. was found to be highest among resident birds, with a rate of 20.1%, while the highest rate of Leucocytozoon spp. was observed in migratory birds, with a rate of 8.2%. Our study holds promising opportunities for understanding the impact of migratory and resident hosts on the dynamics of infectious diseases in wildlife.


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