Parasitological study of wintering geese in Bulgaria - 03/26/2020

Parasitological study of wintering geese in Bulgaria
The identification and study of parasitosis affecting the population status of the endangered species Red-breasted goose (Branta ruficollis) in Bulgaria is part of the National Action Plan for the Conservation of the species for the period 2015 - 2024.

The impact of parasites such as helminths and protozoa in wetlands extends to all vertebrates, including geese. It is for this reason that last year Green Balkans started collecting samples of geese feces for subsequent parasitological analysis, the results of which will serve to determine the general status of the species.

Collected more than 120 samples in January last year were all negative but one of the samples in February was positive for Amidostomosis - a disease of geese, caused by a particular worm (the amidostomum) which infests the submucosa of the stomach. It lays eggs there that are extracted by feces. In dry conditions these die but in water these develop and in a week time worms hatch that may swim and attach to grass being gulped by geese during grazing. Once these reach the stomach, worms penetrate into submucosa and in three weeks reach maturity.

This year, the Association’ experts continued activities, collecting more than 60 samples of excrements from Greater White-fronted and Red-breasted geese, feeding in the fields around the Durankulak and Shabla lakes, as well as around the Burgas lakes complex. The samples were submitted for analysis in the Department of Microbiology, Infectious and Parasitic Diseases at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine at Thracian University - Stara Zagora. The results are negative, which indicates the good health condition of wintering geese this season. The systematic data collection and the accumulation of results will allow the identification of trends in the status of the populations of Red-breasted Geese, which will assist in the development and implementation of adequate, timely and operational measures, if necessary.

We recall that the link between biodiversity and the impact of helminths, cited in research papers by leading parasitologists, shows us additional very important reason for the protection of the ecosystems’ balance. With high biodiversity, a high diversity of helminths is also observed, leading to increased competition between them at the intermediate host level, which regulates the number of parasites in the wild. This must make us extremely cautious and responsible whenever intervening in natural processes, no matter how insignificant it may seem to us.
For additional information:
Dimitar Popov - Green Balkans, Phone: 0885 108712; e-mail: