Toxoplasma gondii and Neospora caninum are apicomplexan protozoa of major concern in livestock and T. gondii is also considered one of the major threats and a public health concern. These protozoa have a wide range of intermediate hosts, including birds. The present work aimed to assess the prevalence of these cyst-forming parasites in migratory and sedentary birds of prey. The skeletal muscle and myocardium of 159 birds of prey from Central Italy, belonging to 19 species and recovered across 6 Wildlife Recovery Centers/Care structures along the Italian migratory route, were collected specifically for molecular (PCR) and for histopathological analysis to detect T. gondii and N. caninum. For the molecular analysis, genomic DNA was extracted. The DNA was tested by sequence typing, targeting GRA6, 529 bp repeated element, B1, PK1, BTUB, SAG2, alt.SAG2, and APICO genes for T. gondii and to end-point PCR targeting NC5 gene for N. caninum. Thirty-seven out of the one hundred and fifty-nine analyzed samples tested positive for T. gondii with a prevalence of 23.27% and nine for N. caninum, with a prevalence of 5.66%. Thirty-two sequences were obtained from the thirty-seven isolates of T. gondii. Among these, 26 presented alleles compatible with type I strain in 1 or more loci, 4 with type II strain and 2 consisted of atypical strains. Toxoplasma gondii genetic variability in birds of prey confirms previous findings of wildlife as reservoirs of atypical strains. Results from the histology showed few protozoal tissue cysts in skeletal muscle (n. 4) and hearts (n. 2).
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