In the control program of wild fauna the competent authority of Emilia Romagna region has identified as indicator animals wild boar (Sus scrofa), fox (Vulpes vulpes) and corvid species and regular monitoring should be done by Experimental Zooprophylactic Institute to assess changes in infectious and parasitic diseases. The Corvidae (order Passeriformes) belong to the most developed avian group. These birds live in very close contact with human residential areas as well as poultry farm and, being migratory species especially in search of the food, they can act as vector for a wide range of pathogens and parasites. There is no previous information on occurrence of endoparasitic helminths in corvids in Italy nor on their histopathological effects on hosts. During this investigation, we studied the histopathology due to an enteric helminth, namely Sphaerirostris picae (Acanthocephala) in 80 corvids belonging to two species, β9 hooded crow (Corvus corone cornix) and 51 magpie (Pica pica). The prevalence of S. picae was 10% in both bird species. The intensity of infection was β-1β worms for hooded crow and 1-9 for magpie. Intestinal helminths often induce changes in the morphology of the host tissues, which can lead to alterations in the digestive physiology of the host. The histopathology induced by S. picae in the intestines of birds was carried out by light and transmission electron microscopy. Both male and female acanthocephalans penetrated deeply through all the layer of the hosts intestine by means of their neck and proboscis, in some instances the proboscis emerged in the peritoneal (abdominal) cavity. At the site of attachment, S. picae provoked a complete loss of intestinal architecture and a catarrhal enteritis. The main cellular immune response was an intense eosinophil granulocytes infiltration. S. picae is not a parasite species that may pose a public health risk.
Bahram S. Dezfuli
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