Fachbereich Veterinärmedizin



    High prevalence of Sarcocystis calchasi sporocysts in European Accipiter hawks (2011)

    Zeitschriftenartikel / wissenschaftlicher Beitrag
    Olias, Philipp
    Olias, Lena
    Krücken, Jürgen
    Lierz, Michael
    Gruber, Achim D
    Veterinary Parasitology; 175(3/4) — S. 230–236
    ISSN: 0304-4017
    DOI: 10.1016/j.vetpar.2010.10.025
    Pubmed: 21074324
    Institut für Parasitologie und Tropenveterinärmedizin

    Robert-von-Ostertag-Str. 7-13
    Gebäude 35, 22, 23
    14163 Berlin
    +49 30 838 62310

    Abstract / Zusammenfassung

    The emerging Sarcocystis calchasi induces a severe and lethal central nervous disease in its intermediate host, the domestic pigeon (Columba livia f. domestica). Experimental studies have identified the Northern goshawk (Accipiter g. gentilis) as final host. Phylogenetically closely related European sparrowhawks (Accipiter n. nisus) and wood pigeons (Columba palumbus) have been found to harbor genetically closely related Sarcocystis spp. However, data on the prevalence and potential interspecies occurrence of these parasites are lacking. Here, we report that European Accipiter hawks (Accipitrinae) are highly infected with S. calchasi, S. columbae and Sarcocystis sp. ex A. nisus in their small intestine. Thirty-one of 50 (62%) Northern goshawks necropsied during 1997-2008 were positive for S. calchasi in a newly established species-specific semi-nested PCR assay based on the first internal transcribed spacer region. Unexpectedly, 14 of 20 (71.4%) European sparrowhawks tested also positive. In addition, birds of both species were found to be infested with S. columbae and an, as yet, unnamed Sarcocystis sp. recently isolated from European sparrowhawks. These findings raise new questions about the host specificity of S. calchasi and its high virulence in domestic pigeons, since sparrowhawks only rarely prey on pigeons. Notably, isolated sporocysts from both infected Accipiter spp. measured 8 μm × 11.9 μm, precluding a preliminary identification of S. calchasi in feces of Accipiter hawks based on morphology alone. Importantly, three of four Northern goshawks used in falconry tested positive for S. calchasi. In conclusion, the results indicate that both European Accipter spp. in Germany serve as natural final hosts of S. calchasi and suggest that falconry and pigeon sport may serve as risk factors for the spread of this pathogen in domestic pigeons.