A total of 43 plant substances provided as raw material and different kinds of extracts (aqueous, ethanol, and heptane) from 18 different organic wastes obtained from the food/feed industry were investigated for their in vitro activities against clonal cultures of Histomonas meleagridis, Tetratrichomonas gallinarum, and Blastocystis sp. Ethanolic extracts of thyme, saw palmetto, grape seed, and pumpkin fruit proved to be most efficacious. Thus, these extracts were further tested in vivo in turkeys experimentally infected with H. meleagridis by administrating the substances to the birds through the drinking water. Even though a delayed mortality was noticed in some birds medicated with the extracts of thyme, grape seed, and pumpkin fruit, all birds died or had to be euthanized the latest within 5 weeks post infection—with the exception of one bird which was probably never infected with histomonads—due to a severe typhlohepatitis indicative for histomonosis. In addition, none of the substances were able to prevent the spreading of H. meleagridis from infected to in-contact birds. Thus, these studies clearly demonstrate that in vitro studies are of limited value to assess the efficacy of plant substances against histomonosis.
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This work was funded by the EU project SAFEWASTES (Sixth Framework Programme, Priority 5, Food Quality and Safety, proposal number 513949). The authors would like to thank all collaborating partners within the abovementioned project for supplying the plant extracts. All experiments performed in the present study were discussed and approved by the institutional ethics committee and performed in agreement with the Austrian animal license number 68.205/0017-BrGT/2005.
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