The relationship between flock management and histomoniasis, a re-emergent infection in poultry, was investigated by statistical techniques used in veterinary epidemiology to deal with various problems including: multicollinearity, confounding, interaction or sample size. Associations between the variables describing flock management were examined by multivariate descriptive analysis to reduce the number of independent variables, prior to investigating associations with the disease. No homogenous groups of farms were found in the 44 free-range turkey flocks sampled in France. Histomonas meleagridis was identified in 26/38 flocks and histomoniasis was confirmed in 19 flocks. Cleanliness of the building, wet litter and diarrhoea were linked with H. meleagridis and severity of histomoniasis. Sharing outdoor fields simultaneously with chickens was related to serious macroscopic lesions determined by post-mortem examinations. Contrary to general belief, acidification of drinking water with organic acid had consistent association with the presence of H. meleagridis in turkey caeca. These results confirm previous findings and provide several new hypotheses on the effects of hygiene and water management on H. meleagridis and histomoniasis.
(Accepted July 13 2009)
(Online publication August 10 2009)