abstract

Between April 2008 and March 2009, we analyzed the pattern of coccidian oocysts present in the feces of the European bison (Bison bonasus L., 1758) and found 4 species (Eimeria bovis, E. canadensis, E. ellipsoidalis, E. zuernii) previously reported from this host and 3 species (Eimeria alabamensis, E. cylindrica, E. pellita) that are new host and locality records. All the species occurred in bison females, and only 4 occurred in males; E. bovis was the most prevalent in both sexes. The overall prevalence of Eimeria spp. invasion reached 34.7% in cows and 13.9% in bulls. The highest prevalence was noted in early spring, with a peak in April, and the lowest in late autumn and winter. The oocyst count per gram of feces (OPG) varied from 50 to 1,350; no symptoms of clinical coccidiosis were observed. We found a significant influence of winter aggregations of bison on shedding of coccidian oocysts. The prevalence and OPG values were higher in bison congregating in large numbers around winter-feeding sites in comparison to other sites. We suggest that the coming together of cows during the growing season impacts the gender-related differences in prevalence and the number of coccidian species involved. This observation probably results from an increased production of oocysts by sub-clinically infected individuals in high-density bison populations.

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