Neuronal storage disease in a group of captive Humboldt penguins (Spheniscus humboldti)

Arno Wünschmann, A. Armien, R. Wallace, M. Wictor, M. Oglesbee

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14 Scopus citations


A neuronal storage disease affecting 5 captive Humboldt penguins is described. One bird died after 3 days of lethargy and anorexia. The 4 remaining birds died after a slowly progressing course of disease with signs that included lethargy, weakness, and neurologic dysfunction. Neurologic signs included dysphagia and ataxia. Gross lesions in the first animal to die consisted of hepatosplenomegaly indicative of avian malaria, which was confirmed histologically. The 4 remaining animals were mildly to moderately emaciated. Moderate to marked vacuolation of the neuronal perikarya was observed in Purkinje cells, neurons of the brainstem nuclei, and motorneurons of the spinal cord in all birds. By electron microscopy the vacuoles represented multilayered concentric lamellar structures. These findings were indicative of sphingolipidosis. All animals had been prophylactically treated for avian malaria, aspergillosis, and possible bacterial infections with chloroquine, itraconazole, and enrofloxacin. Circumstantial evidence implicates chloroquine therapy as the possible cause of the storage disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1029-1033
Number of pages5
JournalVeterinary pathology
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2006


  • Brain
  • Chloroquine
  • Electron microscopy
  • Histology
  • Penguin
  • Storage disease


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