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A single strain of Tetratrichomonas gallinarum causes fatal typhlohepatitis in red-legged partridges (Alectoris rufa) to be distinguished from histomonosis

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Typhlohepatitis was observed in a flock of 2500 red-legged partridges in Great Britain, characterized by the sudden deaths of 15 birds within 2 days. Necropsy of five dead birds revealed severe lesions in the caeca with thickened caecal walls, a reddened lining and bloody contents. The livers contained multiple miliary lesions and similar pathological changes were found in the spleens of some birds. Microscopic examination of intestinal contents showed the occurrence of coccidial oocysts in two partridges. Different methods for the detection of bacteria from liver and intestine samples were conducted without positive results. Histopathological examination revealed the presence of protozoan parasites in the caecum, liver and spleen of the affected birds. In situ hybridization (ISH) for the detection of trichomonads resulted in positive findings and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) confirmed the presence of Tetratrichomonas gallinarum in the lesions. Additionally, archived tissues of red-legged partridges from different flocks suffering from severe typhlohepatitis in Great Britain in 2008 and 2009 were re-investigated by ISH and PCR. Beside the sporadic occurrence of histomonosis, in most of the cases trichomonads were detected by ISH in the caecum and liver of affected birds. Furthermore, dissemination of the flagellate into the lung and bursa of Fabricius could be demonstrated. Analyses of T. gallinarum DNA obtained from the different cases resulted in homologous nucleotide sequences. Altogether, the results demonstrate the circulation of a virulent strain of T. gallinarum in reared red-legged partridges.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Clinic for Poultry and Fish Medicine, Department for Farm Animals and Veterinary Public Health, University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna, Austria 2: AHVLA Carmarthen, Johnstown, Carmarthen, Dyfed, UK 3: AHVLA Lasswade, Penicuik, Midlothian, UK

Publication date: September 3, 2014

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