A 4-mo-old male Japanese white-naped crane (Grus vipio) kept in an outdoor exhibit at the Everland Zoological Gardens in Korea became depressed and developed anorexia, weight loss, and diarrhea. Death of this bird was associated with an overwhelming systemic infection by an intracellular coccidian parasite, which resulted in necrosis and granulomatous inflammation in a number of major organs, including the intestine, liver, spleen, and kidney. Coccidian parasite–laden macrophages were commonly found in the blood vessels of these organs. Using electron microscopy and polymerase chain reaction assays, the parasite was identified as Eimeria sp. The bird was also infected with Cryptosporidium sp., which suggests an immunosuppressed state, although the cause of such suppression was not identified. Our findings suggest that an initial Eimeria sp. intestinal infection spread to other organs through the blood vessels, with the immunosuppressed state possibly contributing to a rapid hematogenous transmission. To our knowledge, this is the first report of disseminated visceral coccidiosis caused by Eimeria sp. in a captive Japanese white-naped crane.
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