Cecal Worms

This parasite (Heterakis gallinae) is found in the ceca of chickens, turkeys and other birds.

This parasite apparently does not seriously affect the health of the bird. At least no marked symptoms or pathology can be blamed on its presence. Its main importance is that it has been incriminated as a vector of Histomonas meleagridis, the agent that causes blackhead. This protozoan parasite apparently is carried in the cecal worm egg and is transmitted from bird to bird through this egg.

The life history of this parasite is similar to that of the common roundworm. The eggs are produced in the ceca and pass in the feces. They reach the infective form in about two weeks. In cool weather, this may take longer. The eggs are very resistant to environmental conditions and will remain viable for long periods.

The cecal worm can be effectively treated with fenbendazole. Since the worm itself produces no observable damage and the eggs live for long periods, it is advisable and necessary to keep chickens and turkeys separated to prevent spread of blackhead.

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