Stiftung Tierärztliche Hochschule Hannover (TiHo)TiHo eLib

Retrospective investigations of recurring histomonosis on a turkey farm

The ban of effective feed additives and therapeutics in the European Union and in other parts of the world led to a dramatic increase of histomonosis in turkeys. Despite the impact of the disease on the health and welfare of poultry, many questions remain open regarding the epidemiology of the pathogen. In this study, we retrospectively monitored a farm with recurring cases of histomonosis to identify possible routes of pathogen introduction and predisposing factors that may influence the disease development. We included 32 consecutive turkey flocks, which were fattened between 2007 and 2021 on the same farm under the same management and housing conditions. During this period, Histomonas meleagridis was detected in eight flocks of toms and four flocks of hens with a high variability in disease development. Outbreaks in toms led to significantly (P ≤ 0.05) higher mortality rates (5.3%-98.3%) than in hens (2.6%-6.1%). Most of the outbreaks (9/12) were diagnosed between June and September with a peak in August, suggesting a possible impact of higher temperatures either on the host or on the pathogen and pathogen-transmitting vectors. Further investigation is necessary to determine why hens might cope better with histomonosis than toms. Continuous flock and hygiene management is important to prevent an introduction of the causative pathogen and to control potential vectors.

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