Research Article
Ectoparasites of Domestic Pigeon(Columba livia domestica, Linnaeus) in Zaria, Nigeria

K.L. Adang, S.J. Oniye, A.U. Ezealor, P.A. Abdu and O.J. Ajanusi

Research Journal of Parasitology, 2008, 3(2), 79-84.

Abstract

A total of 240 (127 males and 113 females) domestic pigeons (Columba livia domestica Linnaeus) purchased from Samaru and Sabon-Gari markets in Zaria, were examined by plumage brushing for ectoparasites. One hundred and seventy-seven (73.8%) of the birds were infested by five species of ectoparasites. The ectoparasites comprised lice: 15 (6.3%) Menopon gallinae, 153 (63.8%) Columbicola columbae and 26 (10.8%) Goniodes sp.; flies: 89 (37.1) Pseudolynchia canariensis and 6 (2.5%) of mites (Dermanyssus gallinae). Seventy-four (30.8%) of the domestic birds had single infestation, 95 (39.6%) had double infestation and 7 (2.9%) had triple infestation. The difference between single and mixed infestation was not statistically significant (p>0.05). The females had a higher prevalence 84 (74.3%) than the males 93 (73.2%). There was however no significant difference (p>0.05) in the infestation rates between the sexes. Ectoparasites were removed from the birds through out the year with highest prevalence (95%) in August. Columbicola columbae and Pseudolynchia canariensis were collected through out the year.

ASCI-ID: 84-32

Where:

O = Observed value
E = Expected value = Row total x Column total/Overall total (using the two by contingency table)

The F-test was used through the Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) for significant test between single and mixed infestations.

All tests were performed using the SPSS® computer soft ware (SPSS, 1999).

RESULTS

Of the 240 domestic pigeons examined, 177 (73.8%) were infested with ectoparasites.

Five species of ectoparasites were identified, which comprised three species of lice Menopon gallinae (6.3%), Columbicola columbae (63.8%) and Goniodes sp. (10.8%); one species of fly Pseudolynchia canariensis (37.1%) and one species of mite Dermanyssus gallinae (2.5%).

The ectoparasites were removed from different sites on the body of the birds.

Menopon gallinae and Goniodes sp. from the head, neck and body, C. columbae from quill feathers of the wings and tail, P. canariensis from the down and contour feathers of the skin and Dermanyssus gallinae from the body and legs (Table 1).

The birds had higher prevalence of double infestation 95 (39.6%) compared with single 74 (30.8%), triple 7 (2.9%) and quadruple 1(0.42), whilst 63 (26.2%) of the birds were uninfested (Table 2). The difference in the prevalence of single and mixed infestations was not significant (p>0.05).

Ninety three (73.2%) of males were infested compared to 84 (74.2%) of females. The male and female birds had five ectoparasite species each (Table 3, 4) and the Chi square test revealed insignificant difference (p>0.05) in the prevalence of infestation between male and female birds.

Ectoparasites were collected through out the year with highest prevalence (95%) in August (Table 5).

Table 1: Prevalence and predilection sites of ectoparasites of Columba livia domestica in Zaria, Nigeria

Table 2: Frequency distribution of single and mixed ectoparasite infestations on Columba livia domestica in Zaria, Nigeria

Table 3: Prevalence of ectoparasites on male Columba livia domestica in Zaria, Nigeria (n = 127)

Columbicola columbae and Pseudolynchia canariensis were the most prevalent ectoparasites. They were found throughout the year although the highest prevalence of 95 and 60%, respectively occurred in August. The other ectoparasites, Dermanyssus gallinae, Menopon gallinae and Goniodes sp. were found in April, June and July, respectively (Table 5).

Table 4: Prevalence of ectoparasites on female Columba livia domestica in Zaria, Nigeria (n = 113)

Table 5: Total monthly prevalence of ectoparasites on Columba livia domestica in Zaria, Nigeria, from March 2002 to February 2003

DISCUSSION

No studies have been done on ectoparasites of domestic pigeons in Zaria, this study thus provides baseline or preliminary information on the subject.

The overall prevalence (73.8%) of ectoparasites on domestic pigeons in Zaria appears to be high compared to 72.0, 50.0 and 30.0% found in Domestic Pigeons by Senlik et al. (2005), Mushi et al. (2000) and Petryszak et al. (2000), respectively. Five ectoparasite species were collected from domestic pigeons compared to nine by Conti and Forrester (1981), five by Rosciszewska et al. (1996), two by Mushi et al. (2000), two by Petryszak et al. (2000), two by Dovc et al. (2004), five by Foronda et al. (2004) and three by Senlik et al. (2005). Diversity of bird ectoparasite assemblages may be related to many factors, which may include home range, behaviour, size and roosting habit of the host. The results of this study confirmed the findings of other studies performed in some parts of the world (Senlik et al., 2005; Mushi et al., 2000; Petryszak et al., 2000).

The high prevalence of double infestation of the pigeons by Columbicola columbae and Pseudolynchia canariensis, compared with single infestation may be related to the fact that ectoparasites can cohabit without causing any harmful effects on each other. The interaction of two or more ectoparasites on the same host may be said to be a low inter-specific competitive interaction characterized by simultaneous infestations that may not be detrimental to the two species.

The non-statistically significant association between sex and ectoparasite infestation indicates that both males and females are equally exposed to the acquisition of ectoparasites and their sex related physiognomy may not confer any differences in infestation. This result is in agreement with the observations of Senlik et al. (2005), who reported no significant difference between male and female pigeons in overall ectoparasite infestation.

The peak infestation month was August which coincides with the peak rainy (cold and wet) season in Zaria with air temperature of 23.30°C, rainfall of 314.3 mm and relative humidity of 70-80%, thus encouraging the suspicion of a favourable association of ectoparasite infestation with the rainy season. The collection of ectoparasites through out the year, gives the impetus for suggesting, amongst others, the need for surveillance and control of the parasites at all times, more so, by the pigeon farmers.

The study concludes that the prevalence of ectoparasites of C. l. domestica in Zaria, Nigeria is high. The major ectoparasites comprised lice, flies, ticks and mites, which have been implicated as causative agents of various diseases in other birds. Columbicola columbae and Pseudolynchia canariensis are the most prevalent ectoparasites of domestic pigeons in Zaria. These ectoparasites portray C. l. domestica as either the reservoir or transient hosts. The ectoparasites encountered in this study are considered to be of veterinarian importance, hence, require attention.

The prevalence of these ectoparasites did not vary by host sex. However, the impact of ectoparasite infestations on the well-being of pigeons was not investigated and further studies are needed to determine the effects of ectoparasite infestations on health and productivity of domestic pigeons. The establishment of the types of diseases transmitted by these ectoparasites is desireable. For any effective control programme, domestic pigeons should be treated along side poultry since the pigeons may serve as reservoir or alternative hosts to poultry parasites.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

To Mr. Samuel Otobo, Dr. J.B.D. George and Professor R.I.S. Agbede all of the Department of Veterinary Parasitology and Entomology, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, for technical, material and moral assistance.

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