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The apicomplexan parasite Sarcocystis calchasi (Coccidia: Eimeriorina: Sarcocystidae) is the causative agent of Pigeon Protozoal Encephalitis (PPE) and infects birds of the orders Columbiformes, Piciformes and Psittaciformes. Accipiter hawks (Aves: Accipitriformes) are the definitive hosts of this parasite. Infections of S. calchasi have been detected in Germany, the United States and Japan. However, the prevalence of the parasite in racing pigeon flocks has not yet been determined. Here, the first cross-sectional prevalence study to investigate S. calchasi in pigeon racing flocks was accomplished including 245 pigeon flocks across Germany. A total of 1,225 muscle biopsies, were taken between 2012 and 2016 and examined by semi-nested PCR for S. calchasi DNA targeting the ITS gene. Additionally, a questionnaire on construction of the aviary as well as management and health status of the flock was conducted. In 27.8% (95% C.I. = 22.3-33.8%) of the flocks, S. calchasi DNA was detected in at least one pigeon. Positive flocks were located in 15 out of 16 federal states. A significant increase of infected racing pigeons was seen in spring. Half-covered or open aviary constructions showed a trend of increase of the prevalence rate, while anti-coccidian treatment and acidified drinking water had no effects. The high prevalence and the geographical distribution of S. calchasi suggest a long-standing occurrence of the parasite in the German racing pigeon population. For pigeons presented with neurological signs or other symptoms possibly related to PPE, S. calchasi should be considered as a potential cause throughout Germany.
This article was published in the following journal.
Name: PloS one
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The field of veterinary medicine concerned with PHYSICAL FITNESS of animals in sports (horse racing, dog racing, etc.) and the diagnosis and treatment of sports injuries in animals.
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The former Federal Republic of Germany which was reunified with the former German Democratic Republic in 1990.
The former German Democratic Republic which was reunified with the former Federal Republic of Germany in 1990.
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Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR)
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