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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Beltsville, Maryland (BARC) » Beltsville Agricultural Research Center » Animal Parasitic Diseases Laboratory » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #322861

Title: Acute, fatal Sarcocystis calchasi-associated hepatitis in Roller pigeons (Columbia livia f. dom.) at Philadelphia Zoo

item TRUPKIEWICZ, JOHN - Philadelphia Zoo
item CALERO-BERNAL, RAFAEL - Orise Fellow
item VERMA, S.K. - Orise Fellow
item Mowery, Joseph
item DAVISON, SHERRILL - Pennsylvania Animal Diagnostic Laboratory System
item HABECKER, PERRY - Desiderio Finamore Veterinary Research Institute (FEPAGRO)
item GEOROFF, T - Philadelphia Zoo
item IALEGGIO, D - Philadelphia Zoo
item Dubey, Jitender

Submitted to: Veterinary Parasitology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/8/2015
Publication Date: 11/8/2015
Citation: Trupkiewicz, J.G., Calero-Bernal, R., Verma, S., Mowery, J.D., Davison, S., Habecker, P., Georoff, T.A., Ialeggio, D.M., Dubey, J.P. 2015. Acute, fatal Sarcocystis calchasi-associated hepatitis in Roller pigeons (Columbia livia f. dom.) at Philadelphia Zoo. Veterinary Parasitology. 216:52-58.

Interpretive Summary: Toxoplasma and Sarcocystis are related single celled parasites of livestock and humans. While Toxoplasma has long been recognized to cause neurologic disease in many warm blooded hosts, a new clinical syndrome ‘ Pigeon Protozoan Encephalitis’ was recently recognized in association with infection with a newly described Sarcocystis calchasi. The host range for S. calchasi is increasing. In this study the authors reported an outbreak of acute, fatal sarcocystosis in captive pigeons at the Philadelphia zoo. Unlike previous reports, the pigeons in the present episode died of liver failure with many S. calchasi parasites. The results will be of interest to biologists, zoo veterinarians, and parasitologists.

Technical Abstract: Four Roller pigeons (Columba livia f. dom.) at the Philadelphia Zoo died suddenly. Necropsy examination revealed macroscopic hepatitis. Microscopically, the predominant lesions were in liver, characterized with necrosis and mixed cell inflammatory response. Sarcocystis calchasi-like schizonts and free merozoites were identified in liver. Transmission electron microscopy confirmed that schizonts were in hepatocytes. A few schizonts were in spleen. PCR using S. calchasi-specific primers confirmed the diagnosis. Neither lesions nor protozoa were found in brain and muscles. This is the first report of acute visceral S. calchasi-associated sarcocystosis in naturally infected avian hosts.