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Vet Parasitol. 1999 Jan 28;80(4):341-4.

Prevalence of encysted apicomplexans in muscles of raptors.

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Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology, Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg 24061-0342, USA.


An acid-pepsin digestion technique was used to examine portions of breast muscle and heart from raptors for encysted protozoans. Apicomplexan zoites were present in 52 (45.6%) of the 114 samples examined: 11 of 12 (91.7%) red-shouldered hawks (Buteo lineatus), 20 of 34 (58.8%) red-tailed hawks (Buteo jamaicensis), two of seven (28.6%) Cooper's hawks (Accipiter cooperi), three of four (75%) sharp-shinned hawks (Accipiter striatus), one (100%) Mississippi kites (Ictinia misisippiensis), one of two (50%) American kestrels (Falco sparverius), one bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus), one of two (50%) golden eagles (Aquila chrysaetos), one of three (33%) turkey vultures (Cathartes aura), two of three (66.7%) black vultures (Coragyps atratus), three of six (50%) great-horned owls (Bubo virginianus), five of 15 (33.3%) barred owls (Strix varia), and one of 12 (8.3%) screech owls (Asio otus). Encysted protozoans were not observed in digests of tissues from three broad-winged hawks (Buteo platypterus), four ospreys (Pandion haliaetus), and five barn owls (Tyto alba). Apicomplexan cysts resembling Sarcocystis species were observed in tissue sections of muscles from 28 (37.8%) of 74 raptors.

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