avian & livestock assay data sheet
X0021 - Ultrasensitive qualitative detection of
by real time PCR
is a parasitic disease primarily of passerine birds, especially
canaries, finches, sparrows, grosbeaks, starlings and mynahs.
The disease is caused by infection with various species of the
coccidian protozoan genus
Atoxoplasma. The parasite is host-specific and is transmitted via
the fecal-oral route.
this parasite can cause rapid and fatal disease in fledgling
birds. Affected young birds may develop diarrhea, anorexia,
depression, ruffled feathers, ataxia and hepatic enlargement
that may be grossly visible through the living bird’s skin as
"black spot." Mortality rates for atoxoplasmosis can reach 80%
in young passerines. Infected adult birds are usually
asymptomatic but continue to shed oocysts. The infection can
last for up to eight months. Oocysts are very stable in the
environment and are not inactivated by most disinfectants. Thus,
routine environmental monitoring may be required to completely
remove these parasites from a facility. In addition, new birds
which are introduced into a flock or facility should be
repeatedly screened to help ensure no parasites are being introduced.
atoxoplasmosis has traditionally been through postmortem
examination and histopathology of fledglings that die acutely,
or by fecal floatation on persistently infected adult birds.
Atoxoplasma oocysts is extremely difficult because the
oocysts are very similar to those of
Isospora species and
the shedding of the oocysts by infected birds is often sporadic.
Blood smear testing can be used, but sensitivity is low.
Molecular detection by PCR has been found to be both sensitive
and specific for detection and identification of the parasite (Adkesson
et al., 2005).
Help confirm the disease causing agent
Shorten the time required to confirm a clinical
diagnosis of Atoxoplasma
Help ensure that flocks are free of
Early prevention of spread of
among birds, and between birds and other animals
Minimize human exposure to
Adkesson, M.J., Zdziarski, J.M. and Little, S.E. (2005)
Atoxoplasmosis in tanagers. J. Zoo Wildl. Med. 36:265-272
0.2 ml whole blood in EDTA (purple top) or ACD (yellow top)
tube, or 0.2 ml feces, or cloacal swab, or 0.2 ml fresh, frozen
or fixed tissue.
Contact Zoologix if advice is needed to determine an appropriate specimen type for a specific diagnostic application. For specimen types not listed here, please contact Zoologix to confirm specimen acceptability and shipping instructions.
specimen types, if there will be a delay in shipping, or during
very warm weather, refrigerate specimens until shipped and ship
with a cold pack unless more stringent shipping requirements are
specified. Frozen specimens should be shipped so as to remain
frozen in transit. See shipping
instructions for more information.
2 business days
real time PCR