The occurrence and seasonal patterns of transmission of the blood protozoa of wild turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo silvestris) were studied at Tallahala Wildlife Management Area (TWMA) (Jasper County, Mississippi, USA). Blood smears obtained from wild turkeys in winter, spring and summer, and from sentinel domestic turkeys throughout the year were examined for Haemoproteus meleagridis and Leucocytozoon smithi. Whole blood from wild turkeys captured in summer was subinoculated into malaria-free domestic turkey poults and recipient birds were examined for Plasmodium spp. The prevalence of H. meleagridis and L. smithi were not different (P > 0.05) between adults and juveniles or between male and female turkeys in any season. Leucocytozoon smithi was not detected in poults in summer or in juveniles examined in winter. Sentinel studies and information from wild birds revealed that transmission of H. meleagridis and L. smithi did not overlap. Haemoproteus meleagridis was transmitted from May through November, while L. smithi was transmitted only from January through April. The onset of transmission of H. meleagridis coincided with peak hatching (mid-May) and brood-rearing (May–November) of turkey poults. Plasmodium spp. were not found in turkeys from TWMA (n = 27) nor in birds from three widely separated counties (n = 28) in Mississippi.
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Vol. 26 • No. 4