Payne, Jason Adam
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Histomonas meleagridis, is a unicellular protozoan parasite and the causative agent of blackhead disease. After the parasite enters turkey flocks by means of the paratenic host, Heterekis gallinarum, it can be transmitted from infected birds to uninfected birds by means of cloacal uptake of contaminated feces. Blackhead outbreaks usually result in less then 10% mortality though in some instances whole flocks succumb to the disease. Prior research has not directly addressed this variation of disease transmission. To better understand this variation in disease transmission in vivo turkey trials were performed with treatments designed to induce a loosening of the stool. The results of this research suggest that disease transmission may be correlated with alterations in reverse peristalsis, loosening of the stool and intestinal health. Additionally, two products, Natustat a natural plant derivative previously reported as an anti-histomonal and a yeast fermentation by-product were independently investigated as alternative means of preventing blackhead disease. Under the conditions tested neither of these products were able to ameliorate the effects of blackhead disease. This work sheds new light on the mode of blackhead disease transmission, suggest that intestinal health may be directly correlated with turkeys’ susceptibility to the disease and provides a model for future research to address the connection between these two.