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Diseases of the Red-Legged Partridge (Alectoris rufa L.): a review

Keywords: Ectoparasites , Farm-rearing , Galliformes , Management , Protozoa

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In spite of the ecological and socio-economical importance of the red-legged partridge (Alectoris rufa) as a prey of threatened species and as a gamebird, and the reported influence that pathogens have in other populations of galliform birds, information about diseases of the red-legged partridge is still scarce. Very little is known about the importance of the diseases in the dynamics of free-living partridge populations. However, enzootic avian poxvirus may be causing the death of partridge chicks in some natural populations. In contrast, more evidences support that the intense management of partridges (trough release of farm-reared partridges, supplemental feeding, or predator control) are promoting the release and transmission of infectious and parasitic diseases. Infectious and protozoan agents and monoxenous helminths typical from farmed galliforms (Ascaridia sp., Eucoleus contortus, or Heterakis gallinarum) are extremely frequent in partridge rearing facilities. The presence of such helminths but also other disease outbreaks (e.g. salmonellosis) in wild partridges may be related with the release of farm-reared partridges. Other cases of disease in the wild, such as avian tuberculosis, may be favoured by the aggregation of partridges and other birds around feeders and water points, and by the absence of predators that should remove sick partridges. Intense supplementary feeding may also promote patho-physiological troubles, such as an incorrect development and eventual massive deaths of juvenile wild partridges in summer months. These and other available reports of infectious and parasitic agents and other diseases of diverse aetiology are reviewed.


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