Four of 17 cirl buntings (Emberiza cirlus) involved in a trial translocation in 2004 for conservation purposes died and were examined postmortem. Two of the cirl buntings showed intestinal and hepatic lesions, including necrotising enteritis, consistent with isosporoid coccidiosis, and a third had an intestinal infestation of isosporoid coccidia. Sporulated oocysts from faecal samples from the birds were identified as Isospora normanlevinei, a parasite previously detected in cirl bunting populations in continental Europe. In a subsequent translocation of 75 cirl buntings from Devon to Cornwall in 2006, each brood of birds was placed in strict quarantine at low stocking density, with improved hygienic precautions and detailed health surveillance, and each bird was treated prophylactically with toltrazuril in an attempt to control the disease but not eliminate the I normanlevinei parasites. Seventy-two of the 75 birds were successfully reared and released, and there were no apparent clinical or pathological signs of isosporoid coccidiosis in any bird. I normanlevinei was detected in the released population, an indication that it had been successfully conserved.
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Mr McGill's present address is Brighton Veterinary Consultancy, 81 Stanmer Park Road, Brighton BN1 7JL
Dr Pocknell's present address is Finn Pathologists, The Veterinary Laboratory, One Eyed Lane, Weybread, Diss, Norfolk IP21 5TT
Provenance not commissioned; externally peer reviewed
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