This report chronicles recurring outbreaks of Haemoproteus lophortyx infection in captive bobwhite quail. Clinically, the signs of infection included reluctance to move, ruffled appearance, prostration, and death. These signs were associated with parasitemia, anemia, and the presence of large megaloschizonts in skeletal muscles, particularly those of the thighs and back. The average cumulative mortality for flocks experiencing outbreaks was over 20%. In a typical outbreak, mortality rose when the birds were 5–6 wk of age, peaked in 8-to-10-wk-old quail, and declined rapidly when the quail were 9–11 wk old. Outbreaks occurred exclusively between the months of May and October, and warm weather was determined to be a risk factor for H. lophortyx mortality. This protozoan most likely overwinters in native California quail in the area and is transmitted to quail on the ranch by an insect vector that emerges in warm weather. Infection of the large population of naïve bobwhite quail on the ranch leads to amplification of H. lophortyx, resulting in epidemics in successive flocks.
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Vol. 46 • No. 1