Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

One of many uncertainties concerning the epidemiology of avian malaria in wild bird populations is the age at first infection. While nestlings, being naked and presumably immunologically naïve would seem a likely stage of first infection, most age-stratified prevalence studies have not examined the nestling cohort, whereas those that have use relatively insensitive blood smear examination to diagnose infection. In the study presented here, we used sensitive nested polymerase chain reaction methods to screen blood samples from 195, 14-day-old blue tit (Cyanistes caeruleus) nestlings for avian malaria parasites (species of Plasmodium and Haemoproteus). Adults in this population are commonly infected with Plasmodium spp. (prevalence c. 30%). No avian malaria infections were found in nestlings, but a single positive identification of the related hematozoan parasite, Leucocytozoon sp., was made. Our results suggest either that the nestlings were infected but the disease had not yet reached patency, or that young birds in the nest are not bitten by the insect vectors of the disease.

Original publication




Journal article


J Parasitol

Publication Date





1302 - 1304


Age Factors, Animals, DNA, Protozoan, England, Haemosporida, Malaria, Avian, Passeriformes, Plasmodium, Polymerase Chain Reaction, Prevalence, RNA, Protozoan, RNA, Ribosomal, 18S