Implementation of mini-FLOTAC in routine diagnosis of coccidia and helminth infections in domestic and exotic birds.
Mini-FLOTAC (MF) has recently been proposed for the fecal quantification of gastrointestinal (GI) parasites in birds due to its higher sensitivity and precision in comparison with the McMaster method. The current research aimed to test the use of MF in routine diagnosis of coccidia and helminth infections in several domestic and exotic bird collections in Portugal. Between July 2020 and April 2021, a total of 142 fecal samples from organic layers, peacocks and ratites were collected in four Portuguese bird collections and processed using MF and fecal cultures to identify and calculate GI parasite shedding and prevalence. The McMaster method was also used to compare the shedding levels obtained for both quantitative techniques. MF's relative sensitivity and specificity were also assessed, using McMaster as the reference technique. The implementation of MF resulted in an average Eimeria spp. shedding higher in peacocks from bird collection 2 (502 OPG), followed by peacocks from collection 1 (107 OPG) and organic layers (24 OPG) and peacocks from collection 3 (9 OPG). Peacocks were also positive for Capillaria spp., Trichostrongylus tenuis and Strongyloides pavonis, whereas ostriches and emus were infected by L. douglassii. The MF protocol for exotic animals and the McMaster method did not differ significantly for each parasitic agent and bird species, and MF achieved relative sensitivities and specificities higher than 70% for Galliform eimeria spp., peacock helminths and ratites' L. douglassii infections. Higher L. douglassii EPG values were identified using the MF protocol for exotic species (2 g of feces/38 mL of sucrose solution), followed by McMaster 2/28, MF 5/45 and MF 2/18. The use of MF allowed for obtaining different intestinal parasitic populations in several bird species and locations, and MF 2/38 is globally proposed as the most suitable protocol for bird fecal samples as an alternative to the McMaster method in the diagnosis of avian intestinal parasitic infections.