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Quantification of parasite shedding and horizontal transmission parameters in Histomonas meleagridis-infected turkeys determined by real-time quantitative PCR

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To gain more insight into the within flock transmission of Histomonas meleagridis, the shedding of parasites was quantified by a newly developed real-time quantitative (q)PCR and the basic reproduction number (R 0) and the mean number of secondary infections per infectious bird per day in a susceptible population (β) of H. meleagridis in the absence of heterakis were assessed. Forty turkeys were divided into two groups of 10 and 30 birds at 14 days of age. Birds of the first group were inoculated with 200,000 histomonads each, the second group served as a susceptible contact group. Cloacal swabs were taken at −1, 1, 4, 7, 9, 11, 14, 18 and 21 days post inoculation (p.i.) to assess the shedding of the parasite by the qPCR (detection limit 330 histomonads/ml droppings). The experiment ended at 28 days p.i. Mortality was 100% in the inoculated birds and started at day 12 p.i., while in the contacts, it was 83% and started at 16 days p.i. Shedding started 1 day after the inoculation in both groups. The mean shedding levels (and 95% CI) expressed as parasite equivalents per gram cloacal content on a log10 scale in the inoculated, contact birds that died and contact birds alive were 2.0 (1.6–2.4), 1.6 (1.4–1.9) and 1.2 (0.5–2.0), respectively. Birds that died shed histomonas more often and were infectious for 13.4 days; in contrast, those that recovered were infectious for 5.7 days. R 0 was estimated to be 8.4 and β 0.70. Simulations made with the parameters obtained were in agreement with the experimental results, confirming their validity.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: GD - Animal Health, Deventer, the Netherlands 2: Department of Farm Animal Health, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Utrecht University, Utrecht, the Netherlands

Publication date: September 3, 2015

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