The role of avian species in the Neospora caninum
life cycle has not been completely elucidated, and epidemiological data from Europe are scant. The aim of the present report was to evaluate the presence of N. caninum
DNA in the tissues of 302 birds belonging to different avian species, along with IFAT titers. Forty-two out of the 302 birds (13.9%) showed low serological titers (1/50 and 1/100) against N. caninum.
These data, positive for 31 animals (10.3%), were corroborated by PCR. Twenty-two hearts and eighteen brains scored positive, while nine subjects resulted had parasite DNA both in their hearts and brains. Serological data showed significantly higher results in waterfowl in respect to non-waterfowl avian species. This finding indicates a higher exposure of water birds to the parasite. These avian species, in fact, which feed directly from soil and/or water, are prone to ingest oocysts excreted by final canid hosts. The present study adds information to the state of art of N. caninum
epidemiology in Italy, even if more investigations using bio-assays are needed to allow for a serological/parasitological follow-up to evaluate the real impact of the avian species in maintaining the parasite in main reservoirs.
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