Four commercial strains of chickens, namely, ISA brown leghorn (ISA), TETRA-SL brown (TETRA-SL), Lohmann brown (LB), and Lohmann LSL (LSL), were infected with a well-defined clonal culture of Histomonas meleagridis (H. meleagridis/Turkey/Austria/2922-C6/04) to investigate their susceptibility to histomonosis. Each group included 16 chickens, which were housed under the same conditions in separate pens. All chickens were infected with 104 histomonads orally and intracloacally at 14 days of age. No mortality or clinical signs were observed during the experiment in all birds. Three birds of each chicken strain were euthanatized on days 4, 7, 10, 14, and 21 postinfection. Incidence of histomonosis on the basis of cecal lesions was found to be 64.00% in TETRA-SL, 62.50% in LB, 53.12% in LSL, and 43.75% in ISA chickens. Fewer lesions were noticed in livers than in ceca, with an incidence of 15.62% in TETRA-SL, 9.37% in LB, and 3.12% in ISA chickens. No liver lesions were found in the LSL chickens. Statistical analysis revealed that there was no significant difference (P > 0.05) in susceptibility to experimental H. meleagridis infection based on cecal and liver involvement. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and immunohistochemistry were found to be reliable tools to confirm the presence of histomonads and changes in the ceca. However, some negative PCR results were recorded from the livers despite the presence of macroscopic lesions. Additionally, DNA of H. meleagridis was detected by PCR in a few of the lungs, but immunohistochemistry was negative. Nucleic acid of the protozoan parasite was not detected in samples from kidney, brain, spleen, or bursa of Fabricius. Altogether, the high susceptibility of commercial chicken lines to histomonosis could be demonstrated and characterized by severe lesions in the ceca and insignificant involvement of the liver, approaching a maximum on days 7–14 postinfection.
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Vol. 55 • No. 1