First Report of a Novel Hepatozoon sp. in Giant Pandas (Ailuropoda melanoleuca).


Global Health Program, Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, National Zoological Park, Washington, DC, 20008, USA. [Email]


The first report of giant pandas (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) infected with a novel Hepatozoon species is presented. An intraleukocytic parasite was detected via routine blood smear from a zoo-housed giant panda at the National Zoological Park. Ribosomal DNA sequences indicated a previously undescribed Hepatozoon species. Phylogenetic and distance analyses of the sequences placed it within its own branch, clustered with Old World species with carnivore (primarily ursid and mustelid) hosts. Retrospective and opportunistic testing of other individuals produced additional positive detections (17/23, 73.9%), demonstrating 100% prevalence (14/14) across five institutions. All animals were asymptomatic at time of sampling, and health implications for giant pandas remain unknown.


Ailuropoda melanoleuca,Apicomplexa,Conservation management,Giant panda,Hemoparasite,Hepatozoon,Polymerase chain reaction,