Sarcocystosis warning to poultry eaters

Conservation groups have joined forces to better understand a disease that could impact the UK’s duck population. 

Sarcocystosis, also known as rice breast disease, is believed to have infected a growing number of geese and ducks.

It is caused by the Sarcocystosis spp parasite, which creates cysts in muscles that look and feel like grains of rice.

Although not thought to be harmful to humans, it can create an unpleasant eating experience for consumers. Any danger is removed during the cooking process.

Dr Matt Ellis, scientific adviser for the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC), said: “It’s not dangerous if consumed by humans, but it is unpleasant to eat the infected meat as it creates a gritty texture.”

He did warn that it could impact duck populations. “We don’t know as yet the full impact the disease is having on the population, so surveillance is essential to give us a more complete picture.

“There is a concern from our partners in eastern Europe that it is impacting on breeding success, which could affect our numbers here, as reproduction takes place over there before the ducks migrate.”

In order to monitor the disease, the BASC, Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust and Liverpool University have launched an online survey on Sarcocystosis. Anyone who has seen Sarcocystosis is encouraged to fill out the survey here. 

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