Experimental toxoplasmosis in broiler chicks
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To evaluate chicken toxoplasmosis both as an economic and a public health subject, 84 broiler chicks of a commercial strain, 30 days old, were distributed into seven groups of 12 birds (three replications of four chicks) experimentally infected with three developing T. gondii stages of the P strain as follows: tachyzoites. intravenous (two groups: 5.0 x 10(5) and 5.0 x 10(6)), cysts, per os (two groups: 1.0 x 10(2) and 1.0 x 10(3)) and oocysts, per os (three groups: 5.0 x 10(2), 5.0 x 10(3) and 5.0 x 10(4)). Twelve chicks received only a placebo (control group). During the next 30 days the following parameters were estimated: productivity (weight gain and feed conversion), clinical signs, including rectal temperature and parasitemia (bioassay). No clinical signs suggesting toxoplasmosis were seen and no statistical differences on productivity standards were found in comparison between inoculated and control chicks. However, fowls inoculated with tachyzoites and oocysts occasionally showed hyperthermia. Some haematological changes were detected in fowls inoculated with T. gondii. Anatomo-histopathological changes were not observed. From 14 parasitemias detected, 35.7% appeared on the 5th day after inoculation and 57.1% of them resulted from oocysts inoculation. After 30-35 days all birds were slaughtered: fragments from 12 organs or tissues from each of them were subjected to artificial peptic digestion and after that injected into T. gondii antibody-free mice (IIFR). T. gondii was detected in brain (12), pancreas (five), spleen (five), retina (five), kidney (two), heart (four), proventriculus (three), liver (two), intestine (two), lung (one), and skeletal muscle (one). Similar to observations with parasitemia, from 42 T. gondii isolations, 59.5% came from chicks which had received oocysts. It can thus be inferred that the developing form, expelled by cats, is the most important for T. gondii chicken infection and that brain is the most infected organ in birds. Attention must be paid to the potential importance of chicken meat in public health, since T. gondii was isolated from skeletal and heart muscles. (C) 1997 Elsevier B.V. B.V.