Histomonas meleagridis is the causative agent of blackhead disease or histomonosis in turkeys, and previous research suggests that this parasite survives poorly outside of hosts except within heterakid nematodes. However, we investigated the viability of H. meleagridis in or on several artificially contaminated materials kept at ambient room temperature (22 ± 2 C) to mimic the situation in the field. The protozoan survived for up to 1 hr on wood, rubber, and metal; up to 3 hr on egg-tray cartons, egg shells, and bricks; up to 6 hr on straw, turkey feathers, and feed; and up to 9 hr in nonchlorinated tap water and fecal matter. Therefore, contaminated water, fresh fecal matter, or both could play a role in transmission of the parasite within and among poultry houses rather than other materials tested in this study.
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Vol. 56 • No. 1