The Life Cycle of Cryptosporidium Baileyi N. Sp. (Apicomplexa, Cryptosporidiidae) Infecting Chickens

J Protozool. 1986 May;33(2):289-96. doi: 10.1111/j.1550-7408.1986.tb05608.x.


The life cycle and morphology of a previously undescribed species of Cryptosporidium isolated from commercial broiler chickens is described. The prepatent period for Cryptosporidium baileyi n. sp. was three days post oral inoculation (PI) of oocysts, and the patent period was days 4-24 PI for chickens inoculated at two days of age and days 4-14 for chickens inoculated at one and six months of age. During the first three days PI, most developmental stages of C. baileyi were found in the microvillous region of enterocytes of the ileum and large intestine. By day 4 PI, most parasites occurred in enterocytes of the cloaca and bursa of Fabricius (BF). Mature Type I meronts with eight merozoites first appeared 12 h PI and measured 5.0 x 4.9 micrometers. Mature Type II meronts with four merozoites and a large granular residuum first appeared 48 h PI and measured 5.1 x 5.1 micrometers. Type III meronts with eight short merozoites and a large homogeneous residuum first appeared 72 h PI and measured 5.2 x 5.1 micrometers. Microgamonts (4.0 x 4.0 micrometers) produced approximately 16 microgametes that penetrated into macrogametes (4.7 x 4.7 micrometers). Macrogametes gave rise to two types of oocysts that sporulated within the host cells. Most were thick-walled oocysts (6.3 x 5.2 micrometers), the resistant forms that passed unaltered in the feces. Some were thin-walled oocysts whose wall (membrane) readily ruptured upon release from the host cell. Sporozoites from thin-walled oocysts were observed penetrating enterocytes in mucosal smears. The presence of thin-walled, autoinfective oocysts and the recycling of Type I meronts may explain why chickens develop heavy intestinal infections lasting up to 21 days. Oocysts of C. baileyi were inoculated orally into several animals to determine its host specificity. Cryptosporidium baileyi did not produce infections in suckling mice and goats or in two-day-old or two-week-old quail. One of six 10-day-old turkeys had small numbers of asexual stages only in the BF. Four of six one-day-old turkeys developed mild infections only in the BF, and sexual stages of the parasite were observed in only one of the four. All seven one-day-old ducks and seven two-day-old geese developed heavy infections only in the BF with all known developmental stages present.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chickens / parasitology*
  • Coccidia / growth & development*
  • Colinus / parasitology
  • Cryptosporidiosis / parasitology*
  • Cryptosporidium / classification
  • Cryptosporidium / growth & development*
  • Cryptosporidium / physiology
  • Ducks / parasitology
  • Geese / parasitology
  • Goats / parasitology
  • Mice
  • Poultry Diseases / parasitology*
  • Species Specificity
  • Terminology as Topic
  • Turkeys / parasitology