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21 June 2023 Visceral Haemoproteus minutus Infection in a Major Mitchell's Cockatoo (Lophochroa leadbeateri)
Ciro Cococcetta, Graham Zoller, Thomas Coutant, Anne Girard Luc, Linda Duval, Minh Huynh
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A 1-year-old major Mitchell's cockatoo (Lophochroa leadbeateri) was presented for evaluation of weakness, diarrhea with undigested seeds in the droppings, and weight loss. Leukocytosis with severe heterophilia, monocytosis, and lymphocytosis was noted on the complete blood count. Altered plasma biochemical parameters included a slight increase in creatine kinase and mild hypoproteinemia. Two blood smears before and after 2 days of treatment revealed mild polychromasia and anisocytosis but no blood parasites. Radiographic and computed tomographic imaging of the cockatoo were helpful in identifying airsacculitis, pneumonia, and gastrointestinal motility disorders. The patient died 5 days after treatment for the presenting clinical problems. On the gross postmortem examination, dark red foci in the ventricular muscle layers and 1–3-mm white foci in the myocardium, opaque air sacs, and dark lungs were identified. Histopathologic examination of submitted tissue samples found severe granulomatous ventriculitis and myocarditis with intralesional Haemoproteus species megalomeronts. Qualitative polymerase chain reaction testing for the cytochrome b (cyt b) gene performed on pooled heart, liver, kidney, and intestinal tissues identified 99.5% homology to Haemoproteus minutus. This case report demonstrates the expansion of the geographic range of H minutus to France and potentially to Belgium, which may compromise breeding and conservation of Australian parrots living outdoors. Challenging diagnosis, rapid disease progression, and the absence of validated treatment protocols for psittacine patients suggest that the use of preventive measures to reduce the presence of insect vectors such as hippoboscid flies and biting midges (Culicoides) should be considered. Haemoproteus minutus should be considered and potentially screened by polymerase chain reaction testing on blood samples, especially in the case of highly susceptible avian species (eg, Australian parrots in Europe) that present with sudden weakness, heterophilic leukocytosis, and monocytosis associated with mild anemia.

Ciro Cococcetta, Graham Zoller, Thomas Coutant, Anne Girard Luc, Linda Duval, and Minh Huynh "Visceral Haemoproteus minutus Infection in a Major Mitchell's Cockatoo (Lophochroa leadbeateri)," Journal of Avian Medicine and Surgery 37(1), 62-70, (21 June 2023).
Published: 21 June 2023
Haemoproteus minutus
Lophochroa leadbeateri
Major Mitchell's cockatoo
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