Histomonosis (syn. histomoniasis) is a parasitic disease which affects predominately turkeys but also other avian species. Concurrent with the ban of therapeutic and prophylactic substances, the disease, caused by the flagellated protozoon Histomonas meleagridis, is more frequently reported. Due to somewhat diverse results reported in the past, a well-characterized culture was used in the present study to investigate the possible influence of certain parameters on the outcome of the disease. For this study, turkeys were infected with different doses of the mono-eukaryotic culture Histomonas meleagridis/Turkey/Austria/2922-C6/04 using birds of both sexes at various ages. All study groups consisted of 14 birds, of which 10 birds were directly infected via the cloacal route and four birds were kept as in-contact birds. This scheme was used to investigate the pathogenicity of the cloned isolate in 1-day-old and 14-day-old turkeys. In 8-week-old turkeys, only eight birds out of 12 were infected. When 1-day-old and 8-week-old turkeys were infected with 104 histomonads per bird, all turkeys died between 11 and 21 days postinfection or had to be euthanatized due to their poor condition. In a group of 14 poults, infective doses of either 10 histomonads (100 histomonads among 10 birds) or 103 histomonads per bird had hardly any influence on the first notification of clinical signs. However, even though the onset of clinical signs and mortality was delayed with the lower dose, none of the birds survived the infection. As a consequence, no differences were noticed between male and female turkeys using the mono-eukaryotic culture of Histomonas meleagrigis/Turkey/Austria/2922-C6/04 in the current experimental setting.
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Vol. 52 • No. 1