Retrospective Study of Histomoniasis (Blackhead) in California Turkey Flocks, 2000-2014

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Abstract

The flagellate parasite Histomonas meleagridis causes a severe disease in Turkeys. Since nitarsone, the last antiflagellate feed additive, was withdrawn from the market, H. meleagridis has gained increasing clinical and economic importance, and frequently entire Turkey flocks are lost to the disease. Even before the antiflagellate market withdrawal, H. meleagridis has been recognized as a noteworthy disease in commercial Turkeys. The aim of this study was to compile and analyze data on histomoniasis outbreaks diagnosed by the California Animal Health and Food Safety System in the years 2000 through 2014 while nitarsone was still available. Sixty-two cases were included in the study. In all cases, the parasite was detected by histopathology. Five cases were from breeder flocks, 44 from commercial meat Turkey flocks, and 13 from other flocks such as backyard flocks or pet Turkeys. There were between one and eight cases each year with no clear trend over time. Most cases occurred in the warmer months between April and October with a clear peak in August. Turkeys in the flocks with the disease were aged between 2 wk and 15 mo, with a median age of 9 wk. In cases for which mortality was reported, daily mortality ranged between 0.04% and 2% with an average of 0.34% and a median of 0.15%. Five-week mortality in infected houses on three infected ranches was between 1.3% and 68%. In 12 cases, the parasite was observed in organs other than ceca and liver. These included spleen, kidney, bursa of Fabricius, proventriculus, lung, pancreas, and crop. In 58 cases, histomoniasis was considered the most significant and primary diagnosis; in four cases histomoniasis was regarded as an incidental finding. In 14 other outbreaks, detailed information was available. In 11 cases, more than one house on the ranch was affected; in five cases the disease spread to all houses. Total mortality in Turkeys from affected flocks ranged between 12% and 65%. In eight flocks, the birds were marketed with a weight that was considered too light. In conclusion, the present study shows that even with nitarsone available as antiflagellate feed, additive histomoniasis was a serious disease of Turkeys in the United States with an epidemiology similar to that observed in Europe.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)94-100
Number of pages7
JournalAvian Diseases
Volume62
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2018

Keywords

  • diagnosis
  • epidemiology
  • histomonosis
  • lesions
  • pathology
  • Turkeys

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Animals
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)

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