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Toxoplasmosis is a zoonotic disease caused by infection with the protozoan parasite Toxoplasma gondii. T. gondii is commonly isolated from free range chickens worldwide. However, clinical disease rarely occurs in chickens, and they are generally considered to be resistant to clinical toxoplasmosis. There have only been a few documented reports of clinical toxoplasmosis in chickens worldwide. Humans can become infected by eating chickens that are infected with T. gondii. Felids, especially domestic cats, are the most important life cycle host of T. gondii due to their ability to excrete environmentally resistant oocysts. Cats become infected from eating intermediate hosts that contain the parasite.
Three out of a flock of 14 backyard chickens that were infected with T. gondii in Illinois acutely demonstrated clinical signs of torticollis, inability to stand and lateral recumbency prior to death. The remaining 11 flock members showed no signs of disease.