1Avian and Exotic Pet Service, Carolina Veterinary Specialists, Huntersville, NC, USA; 2Department of Population Health and Pathobiology, College of Veterinary Medicine, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC, USA; 3Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC, USA
A small, flagellated gastrointestinal protozoan of psittacines has been described sporadically in the literature. It presumptively was identified as Hexamita (Spironucleus) meleagridis, but molecular characterization of this organism had not been performed.1-3,5 This protozoan has been associated with acute and chronic gastrointestinal disease in psittacines including cockatiels (Nymphicus hollandicus) with considerable morbidity and mortality.1-3,5 DNA isolated from the droppings of individual birds in a group of cockatiels that persistently shed protozoa was used in a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to amplify the gene for 16s rRNA of Hexamita spp. Sequence analysis of ∼1200 bp revealed a 98% identity with Hexamita (Spironucleus) meleagridis isolated from a turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) (GenBank accession EF050054).4 Based on these sequence data, a PCR assay was developed to determine diagnostic predictive value, prevalence of infection, and morbidity and mortality for cockatiels and other psittacines.
The authors thank the Raleigh-Durham Caged Bird Society and Companion Parrots Rehomed for partial funding of this project.
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