Date of Award

1997

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Environmental Science

First Advisor

Fazal K. Dar

Second Advisor

Ullie Wernery

Third Advisor

Dr. Ahmed Soliman Hussein

Abstract

A survey of 250 captive (animal market) and free-flying (trapped at a sheep farm) pigeons was conducted to assess the prevalence of Trichomonas sp. in the domestic pigeon (Columba livia) population, in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Oropharyngeal swabs demonstrated that 52% of all pigeons were found with Trichomonas sp. in their oropharynx, of which 60%, 68% and 35% of pigeons were Trichomonas sp. positive in the AI Ain and Abu Dhabi animal markets and AI Ain sheep farm respectively. Captive birds had a significantly higher infection rate than the free-flying pigeons. Inspection of the oropharynx of live pigeons positive for Trichomonas sp. revealed that 1.2% of pigeons had trichomonosis lesions. There was a statistically significant difference between pigeons held in animal markets having trichomonosis lesions compared with free-flying pigeons. Post-mortem examinations of 45 pigeons positive for Trichomonas sp. showed that 11 % had oropharyngeal lesions. Survival trials in pigeon carcasses positive with Trichomonas sp., frozen at -20°C, showed that no trichomonads were alive after 6hrs of freezing. Identification studies (morphological identification using a Scanning Electron Microscope) conducted by the Central Veterinary Laboratory, UK, concluded that the Trichomonas sp. isolated in the pigeons was Trichomonas gallinae.

To assess the impact of Trichomonas sp. on falcon health, a review of hospital records for falcons treated for trichomonosis was conducted. Additionally, fifty falconers were questioned to determine their awareness of falcon health, and trichomonosis in particular. The review of hospital records at the Sulman Falcon Hospital in Bahrain and the UAE's Dubai Falcon Hospital and Abu Dhabi Falcon Research Hospital, over a ten year period (1986 - 1996), showed that the UAE hospitals treated significantly less falcons for trichomonosis compared with the Bahraini hospital. In addition, there was a 1.68% decrease in the number of falcons treated for trichomonosis at the Dubai Falcon Hospital over this period. In 1995 and 1996, fewer falcons were treated for trichomonosis at the private Abu Dhabi Falcon Research Hospital, than were treated at the public Dubai Falcon Hospital. This is presumed to be because most of the falcons attended to at the Abu Dhabi Falcon Research Hospital are fed pigeons that have been medicated against trichomonads. Hospital records of the two years, 1995-1996, showed that immature, female shakers are the category of falcon commonly treated for trichomonosis at the Dubai Falcon Hospital and that most falcons (80%) are treated for trichomonosis in the months of October to March. This period equates well with the training and hunting period of the falconry year, when the use of live pigeons in feeding and training increases.

The results of the questionnaire also indicated that trichomonosis is a decreasing health problem amongst falcons held in the UAE. As 78% of falconers did not know the cause of trichomonosis, and since all feed pigeons to their falcons, this decrease may be due to falconers feeding their falcons frozen quail, in preference to pigeons, for economic reasons. Feeding frozen quail is most dominant during the molting season (April - September). In

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