A captive-bred Bobwhite Quail (Colinus virginianus) ranch in southern Utah, US experienced high mortality rates in the late summer and fall of 2012. Nine juvenile birds were necropsied at the Utah Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory. Gross lesions included pale skeletal muscle with multifocal hemorrhages and petechiae in the air sacs and serosal surfaces of most organs. Histologically there was moderate to severe, multifocal, degenerative myositis with intramyofiber schizonts and minimal lymphoplasmacytic infiltrates in the proventriculus, ventriculus, heart, and skeletal muscle. There was also moderate fibrinoid to heterophilic vasculitis in multiple organs with vascular intraendothelial or intravascular merozoites and scattered thrombosis. In the liver and spleen there were multiple degenerative schizonts that had ruptured. Blood smears from three of the birds were stained with Wright-Giemsa stain and examined at a referral laboratory. Although the blood cells were deteriorated (postmortem artifact), life stages (exact stages not specified) consistent with Haemoproteus spp. were identified in erythrocytes. Polymerase chain reaction done on pooled tissues from two birds produced an amplicon in both pooled samples, and direct sequencing confirmed the presence of 533 base pairs of a Haemoproteus sp. in the subgenus Parahaemoproteus. The identification of Parahaemoproteus spp. in quail in southern Utah implies that appropriate Culicoides spp. vectors are present in the state and that there is potential risk to other birds such as zoo and aviary populations, wild turkeys, and other game birds.
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Vol. 54 • No. 4