Pathophysiological responses to a schistosome infection in a wild population of mourning doves (Zenaida macroura)

Karen Sweazea, Anna Simperova, Tiffany Juan, Alice Gadau, Sara V. Brant, Pierre Deviche, Catherine Jarrett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


The blood trematode Gigantobilharzia huronensis typically infects passerine birds and has not been reported in other orders of wild birds. However, in the summer of 2011 in Tempe, Arizona, USA, mourning doves ( Zenaida macroura; order: Columbiformes) were collected with infections of G. huronensis. This is the first report of a natural schistosome infection found in wild populations of doves. We sought to determine if G. huronensis infections alter the general body condition and physiology of doves, a seemingly unlikely host for this parasite. Specifically, we hypothesized that birds infected with schistosomes would exhibit reduced weight as well as increased markers of stress and immune system activation. Adult male mourning doves (n=14) were captured using walk-in style funnel traps. After weighing the birds, blood and mesenteric tissue samples were collected. We measured biomarkers of stress including circulating heat shock proteins (HSPs) 60 and 70, as well as oxidized lipoproteins in schistosome-infected and non-infected birds. Indices of immune system reactivity were assessed using agglutination and lysis assays in addition to determining the leukocyte to erythrocyte ratios and prevalence of hemoparasite infections from blood smears. Schistosome-infected mourning doves had significantly increased oxidative stress and evidence of HSP70 mobilization. There was no evidence for weight loss in schistosome-infected birds nor evidence of significant immune system activation associated with schistosome infection. This may be a reflection of the small sample size available for the study. These findings suggest that schistosome infections have pathological effects in doves, but the lack of mature worms suggests that infected birds in this sampling may not have been suitable hosts for parasite maturation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)386-393
Number of pages8
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2015


  • Gigantobilharzia huronensis
  • Immune system activation
  • Oxidative stress
  • Parasite infection
  • Zenaida macroura

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology


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