Alaska Department of Fish and Game
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Parasites and Diseases
A Field Guide
TO COMMON WILDLIFE DISEASES
AND PARASITES IN ALASKA
SARCOCYSTOSIS (ricebreast of ducks)
|What causes sarcocystosis?|
- Sarcocystosis is caused by the cyst stage of a single-celled parasite.
- Lifecycle: The parasite needs a waterfowl host and a carnivore host. The parasite multiplies in the waterfowl forming cysts in the muscles. The carnivore becomes infected when it eats meat from a duck with cysts. The parasite reproduces in the carnivore’s intestine without harming the carnivore. It comes out in the carnivore’s droppings and contaminates vegetation, which is eaten by ducks.
|Where does sarcocystosis occur?|
- Sarcocystosis occurs in many species of ducks throughout Alaska.
|What are the signs of sarcocystosis?|
- Waterfowl and carnivore hosts usually appear healthy.
- When butchering infected ducks, cysts may be observed in the breast muscle.
- Cysts may look like grains of rice (whitish streaks) running in the direction of the muscle fibers.
|How can I protect myself?|
- Humans cannot be infected by the cysts of Sarcocystis spp. in meat.
|Can I eat the meat?|
- Meat from an infected duck is suitable for human consumption.
- Cooking will kill the parasite.
- Do not feed infected meat to dogs.
|Samples to collect|