Research: Seabird Disease

The health and pathology research conducted at SANCCOB is ongoing and involves not only birds that are being treated at SANCCOB but also carcasses found in the colonies.

A large number of publications have been published by Dr Nola Parsons (former SANCCOB Research Manager) and collaborators on blood parasites, indicators for rehabilitation success in juvenile and adult African penguins and on general health parameters of penguins in the wild.

Disease and health work is being continued by the Research Team (Dr Katta Ludynia and Albert Snyman) together with the organisation’s veterinarian, Dr David G Roberts. Special attention is given to ectoparasite loads of birds admitted to SANCCOB, identification of predators especially in victims from land-based colonies and general health assessments on wild and rehabilitated birds.

As a continuation of the previously conducted health survey and due to the recent occurrence of H5N8 Avian Influenza in South African seabirds, the SANCCOB team will focus its efforts on testing for a variety of diseases in different, mostly endangered, seabird species. This will allow a better understanding on baseline prevalence of diseases in the wild populations and allow a quick detection of any outbreak. Thanks to a grant from the Rupert Nature Foundation, SANCCOB will regularly test for diseases and continue its research in disease prevalence and health assessments in South African seabirds.

SANCCOB’s disease research and risk assessment has been an important part of the first Biodiversity Management Plan (BMP) for the African penguin and we will continue our efforts during the next stage of the BMP.