A study to identify and map the distribution of ectoparasites in scavenging chicken populations in Horro and Jarso as part of the CH4D project is now complete. The results from direct bird examinations show that indigenous breed flocks in the regions studied are infested with a diverse range of ectoparasites, including lice, mite and tick species. A total of fifteen ectoparasite types were identified to species or genus level, and all are known to be associated with clinical disease in poultry. There is a high infestation prevalence in the sample population, with 67% of birds in Horro and 52% in Jarso showing infestation with at least one ectoparasite species. Scaly leg mites and chewing lice species represent the ectoparasites most commonly identified in both regions of the study. Specimens collected include two species of pathogenic chewing lice not previously reported in Ethiopia. Statistically significant differences found between infestation prevalence at regional level and between sampling seasons prompt further study of the factors affecting distribution and transmission of ectoparasites in this setting.
The results of this study contribute to a greater understanding of ectoparasite biology in Ethiopian village poultry and provide the basis for further research in this field. The data collected in the study will be used to develop an identification key of ectoparasites of Ethiopian scavenging poultry in the study regions. This laboratory guide, presented as a series of posters for display, will draw on key diagnostic features collated from a number of identification texts on this subject and will be a valuable and tailored resource for staff at the EIAR diagnostic poultry laboratory and elsewhere. It will also be made freely available via the CH4D project website. The ectoparasite dataset will contribute to the wider investigation of infectious disease epidemiology in Ethiopian village chicken populations within the CH4D project. The ectoparasite study forms the subject of an MSc dissertation submitted by Marisol Collins, a student of the University of Edinburgh entitled ‘Ectoparasites of indigenous village poultry in Ethiopia: a cross-sectional survey of geographically distinct populations’.