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5 percent of penguins in the Galapagos may harbor malaria parasite

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Biologists studying the penguins of Galapagos islands have found evidence that the animals harbor the malaria parasite plasmodium.

"Iris Levin of the University of Missouri at St Louis and her colleagues took blood samples from 362 Galapagos penguins – already listed as being threatened with extinction – on nine islands in the Galapagos archipelago.

All of the birds appeared healthy, but the tests revealed that 19 of the penguins, 5 per cent, carried the Plasmodium parasite, which causes malaria. The infected birds were spread across the archipelago, suggesting the parasite is not restricted to one small colony of penguins. Galapagos penguins move around the islands, so the parasite is likely to spread further, say the researchers."
 
 

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