Case report of respiratory aspergillosis and candidiasis in wild Magellanic penguins (Spheniscus magellanicus), Brazil

Braz J Microbiol. 2021 Feb 10. doi: 10.1007/s42770-021-00438-x. Online ahead of print.


Magellanic penguins (Spheniscus magellanicus) migrate to the continental shelf of southern-southeastern Brazil during austral winter. Stranded penguins are directed to rehabilitation centers, where they occasionally develop fungal diseases. Aspergillosis, a mycosis caused by Aspergillus spp., is one of the most important diseases of captive penguins, while Candida sp. has been detected in penguins undergoing rehabilitation. Nevertheless, their occurrence in the wild is poorly understood. This study surveyed the occurrence of mycoses in free-ranging Magellanic penguins wintering in southeastern Brazil. These penguins were either found dead or stranded alive and died during transport to a rehabilitation center. Overall, 61 fresh to moderate autolyzed carcasses were necropsied. Upon necropsy, three juvenile males (4.9%) presented mycotic-consistent gross lesions. Histopathology and panfungal PCRs confirmed the mycoses. Major microscopic findings were marked chronic necrotizing multifocal to coalescent pneumonia, airsacculitis, and esophageal/gastric serositis with two types of intralesional fungal structures: (a) septated acute-angled branching hyphae (n = 2) and (b) yeast structures (n = 1), both PAS- and Grocott-positive. Sequences identical to Aspergillus sp. were retrieved in two cases, while the third had sequences identical to Candida palmioleophila. This study describes two cases of aspergillosis and one of candidiasis in free-ranging Magellanic penguins, confirming the species' susceptibility in the wild. These mycoses could be associated with the animals' poor body condition, and/or impaired immunity, and natural and anthropogenic challenges related to migration. To the authors' knowledge, this is the first report of aspergillosis in free-ranging Magellanic penguins in the Atlantic Ocean and of candidiasis in penguins worldwide.

PMID:33566323 | DOI:10.1007/s42770-021-00438-x