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10 June 2019 Heterakis gallinarum, the Cecal Nematode of Gallinaceous Birds: A Critical Review
Katherine Lynn Cupo, Robert Byron Beckstead
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Heterakis gallinarum is a heavily prevalent poultry parasite that thrives in the ceca of various species of gallinaceous birds. It is a small roundworm, measuring between 4 and 15 mm long, in the family Heterakidae. Heterakis gallinarum has a direct life cycle not requiring an intermediate host to complete development, and it is generally believed that poultry raised at high density on litter are at greatest risk for accumulating large numbers of the nematode. This species typically only causes mild pathology that does not significantly affect bird performance. However, H. gallinarum is recognized as an economically important parasite by the poultry industry because its ovum serves as the vector for the protozoal parasite Histomonas meleagridis, the cause of histomonosis in poultry. Diagnosis of the nematode typically relies on fecal egg counts, which are prone to false negative diagnoses. Molecular tools are available for studying the nematode and diagnosing infected flocks. Treating and preventing H. gallinarum infection is made difficult due to the low efficacy of anthelmintics for eradicating H. gallinarum from infected birds and of disinfectants for destroying H. gallinarum ova on contaminated farms.

Katherine Lynn Cupo and Robert Byron Beckstead "Heterakis gallinarum, the Cecal Nematode of Gallinaceous Birds: A Critical Review," Avian Diseases 63(3), 381-388, (10 June 2019).
Received: 9 April 2019; Accepted: 7 June 2019; Published: 10 June 2019
Heterakis gallinarum
Histomonas meleagridis
life cycle
paratenic host
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