Gastrointestinal parasites of a population of emus (Dromaius novaehollandiae) in Brazil

Abstract Emus are large flightless birds in the ratite group and are native to Australia. Since the mid-1980s, there has been increased interest in the captive breeding of emus for the production of leather, meat and oil. The aim of this study was to identify gastrointestinal parasites in the feces of emus Dromaius novaehollandiae from a South American scientific breeding. Fecal samples collected from 13 birds were examined by direct smears, both with and without centrifugation, as well as by the fecal flotation technique using Sheather’s sugar solution. Trophozoites, cysts and oocysts of protozoa and nematode eggs were morphologically and morphometrically evaluated. Molecular analysis using PCR assays with specific primers for the genera Entamoeba, Giardia and Cryptosporidium were performed. Trophozoites and cysts of Entamoeba spp. and Giardia spp., oocysts of Eimeria spp. and Isospora dromaii, as well as eggs belonging to the Ascaridida order were found in the feces. Three animals were diagnosed with Giardia spp., and three were positive for Entamoeba spp. based on PCR techniques. After analyzing the data, we concluded that emus were infected enzootically by nematode and protozoan species.