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Parasite Named for Arkansas Poultry Scientist

By Jean-Paul McDonald
Farms.com

Billy Hargis, a distinguished poultry scientist, has been recognized for his contributions to poultry gut health research with a unique tribute. A newly discovered poultry pathogen, Eimeria hargisi, was named in his honor by colleagues at the Ontario Veterinary College in Canada. 

 The parasite was discovered during studies of a recurring disease at a commercial chukar partridge farm in Ontario. 

Hargis, who serves as the director of the John Kirkpatrick Skeeles Poultry Health Laboratory, expressed gratitude for the honor bestowed upon him by his longtime colleague and friend, John Barta, a professor of parasitology at the Ontario Veterinary College.  

The oval-shaped tattoo of the newly named microbe adorns the side of Hargis's right calf, serving as a permanent reminder of his contributions to the field. 

The parasite discovery, led by a team of student researchers at the Ontario Veterinary College, was published in the Journal of Parasitology. Eimeria hargisi is part of the Eimeria parasite family, which causes coccidiosis, a deadly disease that affects a wide range of animals.  

The naming of the parasite after Hargis recognizes his research record in support of poultry gut health and his mentorship of future scientists in the field. 

This tribute marks the second time an Arkansas poultry researcher has had a parasite named after them. Previously, a parasite was named Eimeria Chapmani in honor of retired experiment station researcher David H. Chapman. 

Hargis's contribution to poultry science extends beyond his role at the Skeeles Poultry Health Laboratory.  

He teaches courses in the poultry science department at the Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences, furthering education and research in the field. 

The naming of Eimeria hargisi serves as a testament to Hargis's dedication to advancing poultry health research and his lasting impact on the scientific community. 


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