Primary and secondary infections of the domestic chicken with Trichostrongylus tenuis (Nematoda), a parasite of red grouse, with observations on the effect on the caecal mucosa.
The course of primary and secondary infections with Trichostrongylus tenuis in the domestic chicken was investigated. Primary infections were established after the administration of single and trickle doses of infective-stage larvae. The worm burden in the caeca was highest after a single dose of 500 infective-stage larvae; this gave a mean of 87 nematodes per bird on days 8–9 of infection, 20 nematodes on day 14 and 0 on day 28 of infection. Following trickle doses of 60, 100, 200, 300, 400 or 500 infective-stage larvae, there was a rise and then a fall in nematode egg output in all groups. In chickens given a primary dose of 500 infective-stage larvae followed 30 days later by a single secondary dose of 500 infective-stage larvae, the mean worm burden during the secondary infection rose to 57 nematodes on day 9 of infection and then fell rapidly to 18 nematodes on day 15 and to 2 on day 30. Scanning electron microscopy showed changes in the caeca of infected birds, with the caecal surface being covered in a layer of mucus from 12 days after infection. Balls of blood-stained mucus containing nematodes were observed in the caecal droppings from day 9 of infection onwards. It is concluded that chickens rapidly expel an established infection of T. tenuis, unlike the normal host, the red grouse.