Histomonas meleagridis infection of turkeys is usually accompanied by a severe disease with unspecific clinical symptoms but with distinct pathological lesions in the ceca and liver. In the literature some macro- and microscopic evidence of the spread of histomonads to the other organs has been provided. The aim of the present investigations was to use real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to demonstrate the dissemination of H. meleagridis DNA to different organs after natural and experimental infection of meat turkeys. Samples from several organs were collected from a meat-turkey flock, which proved to be naturally infected with histomoniasis, and examined for histomonad DNA by real-time PCR. Histomonad DNA was detected in all investigated ceca, livers, spleens, kidneys, and pooled brain swabs. Additionally it was found in 75% of investigated samples from bursae of Fabricius, in 50% of investigated duodenums, and in 40% of investigated jejunum samples. After experimental intracloacal infection of 3-wk-old turkey poults with 147,500 histomonads, similar samples were collected from all turkeys that died. After a 3-wk observation period the surviving birds, as well as the noninfected control group, were euthanatized and samples were taken. During the entire experimental period, 10 birds out the 20 infected birds died. Histomonad DNA was detected in all investigated ceca, livers, lungs, and hearts (100%) and almost all kidneys (90%) and bursae of Fabricius (80%). On the other hand, only 30% of examined spleens and 10% of brain samples revealed positive results. Surviving infected birds were euthanatized and necropsied; histomonad DNA was found in one out of 10 livers but not in any ceca. Also, histomonad DNA could not be detected in examined cecal and lung samples from the noninfected control group.
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Vol. 50 • No. 1