ABSTRACT

Recurrent coccidiosis affecting a commercial chukar partridge (Alectoris chukar) farm in Ontario, Canada was investigated. The responsible pathogenic Eimeria species was isolated for biological characterization. The uniformity of oocyst morphometrics supported that only a single Eimeria sp. was present. Experimental infections with coccidia-free chukars were used to describe exogenous and endogenous developmental stages of the parasite. The prepatent period of the causative Eimeria species was 5 days and patency lasted 11 days; fecundity was 1,573 to 30,057, with the highest fecundity recorded with the lowest challenge dose. Endogenous development was elucidated histologically from samples collected at 8 locations along the intestinal tract at 26 time points throughout prepatency. The parasite had 5 asexual generations before oocyst formation that were located from the mid-jejunum to the mid-rectum and in the ceca. Sporulation of oocysts suspended in potassium dichromate at room temperature (22 C) occurred within 24 hr. Oocysts (n = 50) averaged 21.8 by 18.6 μm and featured a polar granule; sporocysts (n = 50) averaged 10.9 by 7.1 μm and possessed a Stieda body, sub-Stieda body, sporozoite refractile bodies, and sporocyst residuum. Comparisons with described Eimeria spp. infecting partridges suggest that the biological features of this pathogenic species are unique; similarly, sequences from both mitochondrial and nuclear loci support the naming of this new Eimeria species.

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