Two Eurasian Blackbirds (Turdus merula) from central Italy were found with severe cyclocoelid trematodosis associated with airsacculitis. The birds were submitted with severe respiratory distress; one died shortly after hospitalization, while the second bird was euthanized. At necropsy, a massive presence of cyclocoelid flukes was observed in the coelomic cavity and air sacs of both birds. The air sacs were diffusely opaque, thickened, and covered by scant fibrinous exudate mixed with numerous parasites. Histologically, the air sacs showed diffuse and severe oedema with fibrinous exudate. Diffuse mononucleated and heterophilic infiltration mixed with multiple granulomas contained degenerated trematodes. Morishitium polonicum was identified using morphologic keys and molecular analysis of extracted DNA. Infections caused by M. polonicum are poorly documented in blackbirds and the findings in these birds support the pathogenic role of this trematode as a potential cause of death in blackbirds in Italy. Extended epidemiologic surveys are required to properly assess the potential importance of M. polonicum as a life-threatening pathogen in Blackbird populations.
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Vol. 57 • No. 4