Toxoplasmosis was diagnosed in a free-ranging wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) from West Virginia (USA) in June 1993. Gross findings included emaciation, splenomegaly, multifocal necrotizing hepatitis and splenitis, and crusting dermatitis on the head and neck. Histologically, multifocal necrosis with mononuclear inflammation was present in kidney, liver, spleen, heart, lungs, and pancreas. Toxoplasma gondii was confirmed in sections of liver by avidin-biotin immunohistochemical analysis. Subsequently, a retrospective serosurvey of wild turkeys for T. gondii antibodies was conducted using turkey sera collected between 1984 and 1989. An antibody prevalence of 10% was detected in 130 birds from 21 locations in the southeastern United States. While wild turkeys in the Southeast have T. gondii antibodies, this is only the second natural case of fatal toxoplasmosis reported; it appears that wild turkeys infrequently develop clinical disease when infected with T. gondii.
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Vol. 31 • No. 2