The Sarcocystis Survey

UK Wildfowl Sarcocystis Survey

Welcome to the UK Wildfowl Sarcocystis Survey website.

Here you will find information about a possibly emerging parasite of wildfowl in the UK and a form for wildfowlers (or others) to submit any surveillance findings.

The disease

Sarcocystosis, or ‘rice breast’ disease of ducks, is caused by the parasite Sarcocystis spp and seems to be on the rise in the UK. The parasite has a relatively complex life cycle using birds as an intermediate host and carnivores as the end host. Within birds in later stages of infection the parasite creates cysts throughout the muscles, in particular the breast and leg, which look like grains of rice.

Castle Espie Wigeon with sarcocystis2
rice breast2

Further information about the disease in the USA, where it is relatively common in dabbling ducks, can be found here.

Risks to humans and domestic animals

Sarcocystis in birds is not thought to pose a risk to human health as cooking kills all stages of the parasite. However, it is not recommended to eat infected birds, nor to feed them to dogs.

Get involved in the surveillance

It is hoped that the UK Wildfowl Sarcocystis Survey will help us monitor the disease over time in the UK and better understand which bird species are affected and any impacts it may be having.

Wildfowlers are well placed to look out for this disease and report likely cases as the pathology is quite striking. If you are a wildfowler and find ducks or geese with what looks like rice breast disease please report cases using the Survey Form. Please use one form per case.

Many thanks to everyone who has sent us tissue for analysis during 2015 and 2016. As of Sept 2017 we are no longer taking tissue samples, however please do continue to report cases.

You will be able to view the results in surveillance reports posted here, once sufficient data is collated.

Further information

For further information contact

 The UK Wildfowl Sarcocystis Survey is a collaborative project involving BASC, WWT and Liverpool University

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