Parasites from farmed ostriches (Struthio camelus) and rheas (Rhea americana) in Europe.
During a 4-year-period (1997-2000), more than 500 ostriches and several rheas, all born in European countries and raised in Spain and Portugal, have been analysed for the presence of ectoparasites and endoparasites. A total of 29 parasite species have been found, most of them of the gastrointestinal tract. Some of the helminth species found may represent spurious parasitoses, as only the eggs (of an ascarid and a trematode) were found in some samples. From the organisms identified, the ectoparasites (lice: Struthiolipeurus rheae, S. nandu; mites: Dermoglyphus pachycnemis, Gabucinia bicaudata), helminths (Cestoda: Houttuynia struthionis; Nematoda: Libyostrongylus sp., Codiostomum struthionis) and the ciliate Balantidium struthionis are known as ratite specific parasites. Capillaria eggs and larvae were also found; there are no previous records of this parasite from ostriches, and the data available do not allow to do a tentative specific diagnosis. Among protozoa, most of the species now found are described for the first time in ratites. They include organisms also found in other birds (Trichomonas gallinae, Tetratrichomonas gallinarum, Chilomastix gallinarum, Spironucleus meleagridis and Pleuromonas jaculans), and organisms whose specific status cannot be established until further analysis are performed (Cryptosporidium sp., Eimeria sp. and/or Isospora sp., Entamoeba sp. of the one-nucleate and of the 8-nucleate mature cyst groups, Endolimax sp., Iodamoeba sp., Monocercomonas sp., Retortamonas sp., Giardia sp., Blastocystis sp. and euglenids).