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Management of Haemoproteus columbae infestation in white fantail pigeons.


White fantail is a popular fancy breed of pigeons (Columba livia domestica), mostly kept as a pet and is well known for their fan shaped tails (Levi, 1977). Haemoproteus columbae is a common haemoprotozoan infection of pigeons also known as Pigeon malaria or pseudomalaria. Hippoboscid (dipteran) fly like Pseudolinchia canariensis is incriminated vectors of Haemoproteus species in pigeons (Benette and Pierce, 1990). The infection is generally of non-pathogenic nature but can causes clinical disease in stressed condition or may be even fatal in younger birds (Soulsby, 1986, Zinkl, 1986). Fatal malaria outbreak in fantail pigeons is also reported from Kerala (Ravindra et a/., 1999). In adult birds, generally there are no visible symptoms. Recently, prevalence rate of Haemoproteus columbae in pigeon shelter has been found to be about 69% from Surat, Gujarat (Varshney et al., 2014). This paper records an outbreak of haemoproteus infection in white fantail pigeons from Palanpur, Gujarat and its successful therapeutics.

History and Observation

Two dead and three sick fantail pigeons as a representative from initial flock of ninety five birds reared as pet at Becharpura, Palanpur were bought for postmortem and diagnostic purpose in the month of August' 2014. History revealed death of 16 pigeons and about 55-60 birds were sick with varying clinical signs like depression, anorexia, circling due to torticollis, reluctant to fly, ruffled feathers and dark greenish watery faeces. They were under antimicrobial therapy with either Neomycin-Doxycycline or Amoxicillin-Sulbactum preparations. Pigeons were of 1-4 months age and were vaccined for Newcastle disease.

Pathological Examination

Blood smears obtained from wing vein were stained with field stain as per standard used for examination of blood parasites. Post-mortem of two dead pigeons was conducted. Blood smear examination showed RBC cytoplasm filled with micro and macro-gametocytes in different shapes of accumulation. Specific halteridial shaped mature macro-gametocytes were observed in infected RBCs with displaced nucleus (Fig. 1). On necropsy, grossly both birds were emaciated having ruffled feathers with prominent and wavy keel bone, coelomic cavity revealed atrophied and congested liver, slightly enlarged spleen and intestine with congested serosa. Microscopically, hepatocytes were showed minimal degeneration, sinusoidal congestion and moderate multifocal aggregations of golden yellow coloured pigment in kupffer cells (Fig. 2). Other organs did not show any significant changes.

Treatment and Discussion

Based on clinical symptoms, blood smear examination and histopathology, outbreak was confirmed as haemoproteus infection in white fantail pigeons. Mostly, treatment of this protozoal infection is not attempted because complete cure is not achieved and its asymptomatic or non-pathogenic nature, but in this outbreak, treatment was attempted due to fatal nature of infection. Buparvaquone is an effective treatment for haemoproteus infection in pigeons (El-Metenawy, 1999, Razmi et al., 2011). Treatment with other antimicrobials was withdrawn and inj. Buparvaquone (Zubiona) was used intramuscularly to treat sick pigeons at the dose rate of 5.0 mg/kg (double recommended dose in animals). Vitamin supplementation (Vitamin E with Selenium) as immunity enhancer was also provided to all birds for ten days. Deltamethrin (Butoxb) spray (2 ml/L water) was used around pigeon house to control vectors. Most of pigeons became apparently healthy in 2-3 days, and in rest birds Buparvaquone dose was repeated after 72 hours as required. After a week, all pigeons were clinically healthy and no haemoparasites observed when blood smears from previously sick pigeons were re-screened. Also, non reoccurrence of infection in pigeons confirmed efficacy.




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(a)--Brand of Intas Animal Health, Ahmedabad

(b)--Brand of MSD Animal Health, Pune

S.H. Raval (1), Ratn Deep Singh (2) and D.V. Joshi (3)

Department of Veterinary Pathology College of Veterinary Science and Animal Husbandry Sardarkrushinagar Dantiwada Agricultural University (SDAU) Sardarkrushinagar--385506 (Gujarat)

(1.) Assistant Professor

(2.) Assistant Professor, Department of Veterinary Pharmacology and Toxicology

(3.) Dean and Corresponding author.

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Title Annotation:Clinical Article
Author:Raval, S.H.; Singh, Ratn Deep; Joshi, D.V.
Publication:Intas Polivet
Geographic Code:9INDI
Date:Jan 1, 2016
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