Experimental Toxoplasmosis in Pigeons (Columba livia)

Main Article Content

Ayhan Atasever
Görkem Ekebaş
Duygu Yaman Gram
Cahit Babür
Abdullah Inci


The purpose of the present study was to establish experimental model of toxoplasmosis in pigeons, to investigate pathogenesis and compare tissue lesions by clinical, histopathological, serological and bioassay techniques. Total of 60 unknown aged pigeons (Columba livia), 21 males and 39 females were used. They were divided into groups as oral (Group I and II) and parenteral (Group III, IV, V and VI) infection groups (Table 1). While some pigeons in Group IV showed acute infection signs such as anorexia, weight loss, pale cockscomb, bend of head and neck and partial paralyze; chronic infection signs such as anorexia, weakness, weight loss, diarrhea, difficulties in breathing, and conjunctivitis were seen in Group IV, V, and VI. In necropsy, the pigeons in Group IV had hyperemia and focal hemorrhages in the meninges and brain; the pigeons in Groups V and VI had yellowish color of the liver, the pigeons in Group V had the pale chest muscles, pericardial thickening and opaqueness. There were no macroscopic findings in pigeons in Group I and III. Histopathological examination revealed nonsuppurative meningoencephalitis and tachyzoites and bradyzoite cysts formation of T. gondii in brain tissue, lymphoid cell infiltration and necrotic focal hepatitis and nephritis in Group IV. While pigeons in Group V had nonsuppurative focal myositis, myocarditis, hepatitis, gastritis, enteritis, pneumonitis, and necrotic pancreatitis, one of them had toxoplasma bradyzoite cyst in the sinusoid in the liver. In group VI, nonsuppurative focal hepatitis, myocarditis, nephritis and necrotic pancreatitis were detected in pigeons. Bioassay tests were performed with tissue samples taken from seropositive pigeons and parasitic tachyzoites were isolated from the peritoneal fluid of the mice. Seropositivity in the oral and parenteral groups was determined by Sabin-Feldman Dye Test (SFDT) and Indirect Hemagglutination Assay (IHA). As a result; in similar studies that will be performed investigating pathogenesis of Toxoplasmosis and subclinical cases that may be overlooked, serologic tests and bioassay applications should be used together for the diagnosis of toxoplasmosis.

Bioassay, histopathology, pigeon, serology, tachyzoites.

Article Details

How to Cite
Atasever, A., Ekebaş, G., Yaman Gram, D., Babür, C., & Inci, A. (2020). Experimental Toxoplasmosis in Pigeons (Columba livia). Asian Journal of Research in Infectious Diseases, 3(1), 16-26. https://doi.org/10.9734/ajrid/2020/v3i130117
Original Research Article


Dubey JP. Toxoplasmosis of animals and humans. 2nd Ed. CRC Press, Taylor & Francis Group, Maryland, USA. 2009;1-18.

Biancifiori F, Rondini C, Grelloni V, Frescura T. Avian toxoplasmosis: Experimental infection of chicken and pigeon. Comp Immunol Microbiol Infect Dis. 1986;9(4):337-346.

Jacobs L, Melton ML, Cook MK. Experimental toxoplasmosis in pigeons. Exp Parasitol. 1953;2(4):403-416.

Bickford AA, Saunders JR. Experimental toxoplasmosis in chicken. Am J Vet Res. 1966;27:308-318.

Boch J, Rommel M, Weiland G, Janitschke K, Sommer R. Experimentelle toxoplasma-infectionen bei legehennen. Berl Meunch Tieraerztl Wochenschr. 1966;79:352-355.

Boch J, Supperer R. Veterinarmedizinische parasitologie. 4th Ed. Verlag Paul Parey, Berlin und Hamburg, Germany. 1983;76-81.

Dubey JP, Camargo ME, Ruff MD, Wilkins GC, Shen SK, Kwok OCH, Thulliez P. Experimental toxoplasmosis in Turkeys. J Parasitol.1993;79:949-952.

Dubey JP, Ruff MD, Kwok OCH, Shen SK, Wilkins GC, Thulliez P. Experimental toxoplasmosis in Bobwhite quail (Colinus Virgmiaus). J Parasitol. 1993;79:935-936.

Dubey JP, Goodwin MA, Ruff MD, Kwok OCH, Shen SK, Wilkins GC, Thulliez P. Experimental toxoplasmosis in Japanese quail. J Vet Diagn Invest. 1994a;6:216-221.

Dubey JP, Ruff MD, Wilkins GC, Shen SK, Kwok OCH. Experimental toxoplasmosis in Pheasants (Phasianus Colchicus). J Wildl Dis. 1994b;30:40-45.

Dubey JP. A review of toxoplasmosis in wild birds. Vet Parasitol. 2002;106:121-153.

Kaneto CN, Costa AJ, Paulillo AC, Moraes FR, Murakami TO, Meireles MV. Experimental toxoplasmosis in broiler chicks. Vet Parasitol. 1997;69:203-210.

Kinjo T. Studies on experimental toxoplasmosis in chickens. Jap J Vet Res. 1961;9:125-126.

Atasever A, Cahit Babür, Abdullah İnci, Görkem Ekebaş, Anıl İça. Beyaz Hindilerde Deneysel Toksoplazmozis. İstanbul Üniv Vet Fak Derg. 2017;43(2): 123-131.
DOI: 10.16988/iuvfd.321873

Atasever A, Cahit Babür, Abdullah İnci, Görkem Ekebaş, Anıl İça. Japon bıldırcınlarında (Coturnix coturnix japónica) deneysel toksoplazmozis. Türkiye Parazitol Derg. 2017;41:62-70.
DOI: 10.5152/tpd.2017.5117

Altınöz F, Babür C, Kılıç S. Konya Yöresinde Yumurta Tavuklarında Sabin-Feldman boya testi ile Toxoplasma gondii (Nicolle ve Manceaux, 1908) seropozitifliğinin araştırılması. Türkiye Parazitol Derg. 2007;31:4-6.

Babür C, Gıcık Y, İnci A. Ankara’da güvercinlerde Sabin-Feldman boya testi ile anti-Toxoplasma gondii antikorlarının araştırılması. Türkiye Parazitol Derg. 1998;22:308-10.

İnci A, Babür C, Çam Y, İça A. Kayseri yöresinde bazı yırtıcı kuşlarda Sabin-Feldman boya testi Toxoplasma gondii (Nicole Ve Manceaux, 1908) seropozitifliğinin araştırılması. Fırat Üniv Sağ Bil Derg. 2002a;16:177-179.

İnci A, Babür C, İşcan KM, İça A. Bıldırcınlarda (Coturnix Coturnix Japonica) Toxoplasma gondii (Nicolle Ve Manceaux, 1908) spesifik antikorlarının Sabin-Feldman boya testi ile araştırılması. Türkiye Parazitol Derg. 2002b;26:20- 22.

Ibrahim HM, Osman GY, Mohamed AH, Al-Selwi AG, Nishikawa Y, Abdel-Ghaffar F. Toxoplasma gondii: Prevalence of natural infection in pigeons and ducks from middle and upper Egypt using serological, histopathological, and immunohisto chemical diagnostic methods. Vet Parasitol Reg Stud Reports. 2018;13:45-49.
DOI: 10.1016/j.vprsr.2018.04.002

Yan C, Yue CL, Qiu SB, Li HL, Zhang H, Song HQ, Zhu XQ. Seroprevalence of Toxoplasma gondii infection in domestic pigeons (Columba livia) in Guangdong Province of southern China. Vet Parasitol. 2011;177(3):371-373.
DOI: 10.1016/j.vetpar.2010.12.004

Salant H, Landau DY, Baneth G. A cross-sectional survey of Toxoplasma gondii antibodies in Israeli pigeons. Vet Parasitol. 2009;165:145–149.
DOI: 10.1016/j.vetpar.2009.06.031

Waap H, Vilares A, Rebelo E, Gomes S, Ângelo H. Epidemiological and genetic characterization of Toxoplasma gondii in urban pigeons from the area of Lisbon (Portugal). Vet Parasitol. 2008;157(3):306-309.
DOI: 10.1016/j.vetpar.2008.07.017

Mushi EZ, Binta MG, Chabo RG, Ndebele R, Panzirah R. Parasites of domestic pigeons (Columba livia domestica) in Sebele, Gaborone, Botswana. J S Afr Vet Assoc. 2000;71:249-250.

Tsai YJ, Chung WC, Lei HH, Wu YI. Prevalence of antibodies to Toxoplasma gondii in pigeons (Columba livia) in Taiwan. J Parasitol. 2006;92:871.
DOI: 10.1645/GE-716R2.1

Karatepe M, Kılıç S, Karatepe B, Babür C. Prevalence of Toxoplasma gondii antibodies in domestic (Columba livia domestica) and wild (Columba livia livia) pigeons in Niğde region, Turkey. Turkiye Parazitol Derg. 2011;35(1):23-26.
DOI: 10.5152/tpd.2011.06

Godoi FSLD, Nishi SM, Pena HFDJ, Gennari SM. Toxoplasma gondii: Diagnosis of experimental and natural infection in pigeons (Columba livia) by serological, biological and molecular techniques. Rev Bras Parasitol Vet. 2010;19(4):237-243.
DOI: 10.1590/S1984-29612010000400009

Kirkpatrick CE, Colvin BA, Dubey JP. Toxoplasma gondii antibodies in common barn-owls (Tyto alba) and pigeons (Columba livia) in New Jersey. Vet Parasitol. 1990;36(1-2):177-180.

Mushi EZ, Binta MG, Chabo RG, Ndebele R, Panzirah R. Seroprevalence of Toxoplasma gondii and Chlamydia psittaci in domestic pigeons (Columba livia domestica) at Sebele, Gaborone, Botswana. Onderstepoort J Vet Res. 2001;68(2):159-161.

Mc Culloch WF. Toxoplasmosis review and assesment, in 11th Annu. Meet. American Assoc. Veterinary Laboratory Diagnosis, New Orleans, Louisiana, October 6 to 11. 1968;503-504.

Dubey JP, Webb DM, Sundar N, Velmurugan GV, Bandini LA, Kwok OCH, Su C. Endemic avian toxoplasmosis on a farm in Illinois: Clinical disease, diagnosis, biologic and genetic characteristics of Toxoplasma gondii isolates from chickens (Gallus domesticus) and a goose (Anser anser). Vet Parasitol. 2007;148(3-4):207-212.
DOI: 10.1016/j.vetpar.2007.06.033

Devada K, Anandan R, Dubey JP. Serologic prevalence of Toxoplasma gondii in chickens in Madras, India. J Parasitol. 1998;84:621-622.

El-Massary A, Mahdy OA, El-Ghaysh A, Dubey JP. Prevalence of Toxoplasma gondii antibodies in sera of Turkeys, chickens, and ducks from Egypt. J Parasitol. 2000;86:627-628.
DOI:10.1645/0022-3395(2000)086[0627: POTGAI]2.0.CO;2

Dubey JP. Toxoplasma gondii infections in chickens (Gallus domesticus): Prevalence, clinical disease, diagnosis and public health significance. Zoonoses and Public Health. 2010;57(1):60-73.
DOI: 10.1111/j.1863-2378.2009.01274.x

Chumpolbanchorn K, Anankeatikul P, Ratanasak W, Wiengcharoen J, Andrew Thompson RC, Sukthana Y. Prevalence of Toxoplasma gondii indirect fluorescent antibodies in naturally- and experimentally-infected chickens (Gallus domesticus) in Thailand. Acta Parasitol. 2009;54:194-196.
DOI: 10.2478/s11686-009-0034-2

Magalhaes FJ, da Silva JG, Ribeiro-Andrade M, Pinherio Júnior JW, Mota RA. High prevalence of toxoplasmosis in free-range chicken of the Fernando de Noronha Archipelago, Brazil. Acta Tropica. 2006;159:58-61.
DOI: 10.1016/j.actatropica.2016.03.034

Muhammad FZ, Garedaghi Y. Seroprevalence of toxoplasmosis in free range chickens in Tabriz area of Iran by using ELISA test. Natural Science and Discovery. 2016;2(1):20-3.
DOI: 10.20863/nsd.11240

Dubey JP, Levy MZ, Sreekumar C, Kwok OH, Shen SK, Dahl E, Lehmann T. Tissue distribution and molecular characterization of chicken isolates of Toxoplasma gondii from Peru. J Parasitol. 2004;90(5):1015-1018.
DOI: 10.1645/GE-329R

Bartova E, Sedlák K, Literák I. Serologic survey for toxoplasmosis in domestic birds from the Czech Republic. Avian Pathol. 2009;38(4):317-320.
DOI: 10.1080/03079450903055405

Martínez-Carrasco C, Bernabé A, Ortiz JM, Alonso FD. Experimental toxoplasmosis in red-legged partridges (Alectoris rufa) fed Toxoplasma gondii oocysts. Vet Parasitol. 2005;130(1-2):55-60.
DOI: 10.1016/j.vetpar.2005.03.003

Foster BG, Forrest RG, Blanco. Isolation of Toxoplasma gondii from naturally infected chickens. Tex J Sei. 1969;20:323-324.

Jacobs L, Melton ML. Toxoplasmosis in chickens. J Parasitol. 1966;52:1158- 1162.

Mason RW, Hartley WJ, Dubey JP. Lethal toxoplasmosis in a Little Penguin (Eudyptula minor) from Tasmania. J Parasitol. 1991;72:328-329.

Bangoura B, Zöller B, Koethe M, Ludewig M, Pott S, Fehlhaber K, Daugschies A. Experimental Toxoplasma gondii oocyst infections in turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo). Vet Parasitol. 2013;196(3-4):272-277.
DOI: 10.1016/j.vetpar.2013.03.032

Miller NL, Frenkel JK, Dubey JP. Oral infections with Toxoplasma cyst and oocysts in felines, other mammals, and in birds. J Parasitol. 1972;58:928-931.

Derakhshanfar A, Hatam G, Sohrabi K, Mirzaei M. Clinical, serological and histopathological signs of toxoplasmosis in broiler chickens (Gallus domesticus) after experimental infection. Comp Clin Path. 2012;21(6):1379-1382.
DOI: 10.1007/s00580-011-1300-x

Parenti E, Cerruti Sola S, Turilli C, Corazzola S. Spontaneous toxoplasmosis in canaries (Serius canaria) and other small passerine cage birds. Avian Pathol. 1986;15:154-158:.

Quist CF, Dubey JP, Lutrell MP, Davidson WR. Toxoplasmosis in wild turkeys: A case report and serologic survey. J Wildl Dis. 1995;31:255-8.

Vickers MC, Hartley WJ, Mason RW, Dubey JP, Schollam L. Blindness associated with toxoplasmosis in canaries. JAVMA. 1992;200:1723-1725.

Williams MS, Fulton RM, Render JA, Mansfield L, Bouldin M. Ocular encephalitic toxoplasmosis in canaries. Avian Dis. 2001;45:262-267.