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Vet Parasitol. 2000 Sep 20;92(2):119-28.

Neospora hughesi: experimental infections in mice, gerbils, and dogs.

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Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology, Center for Molecular Medicine and Infectious Diseases, Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine, Virginia Tech, 24061-0342, USA.


Neospora hughesi is a recently described cause of equine protozoal myeloencephalitis (EPM). A rodent model for pathogenicity would facilitate development of therapies to be used in horses. In the present study, we examined the susceptibility of BALB/c gamma-interferon gene knockout (gamma-INFKO), BALB/c, CD-1, and C57BL/6 strains of mice and gerbils to infection with tachyzoites of the Nh-A1 strain of N. hughesi isolated from a horse from AL, USA. Only the gamma-IFNKO mice developed severe clinical disease following infection with N. hughesi and died 19-25 days after infection and exhibited severe cardiac lesions. In contrast, experimental infection of gamma-INFKO mice with tachyzoites of the NC-1 or NC-Liverpool strains of Neospora caninum resulted in deaths 8-10 days after infection. The most severe lesions were in the livers, spleens, and lungs of these mice. Gerbils inoculated with N. hughesi did not develop clinical disease, had few microscopic lesions, but did seroconvert. Two dogs fed the brains of mice, shown to contain N. hughesi tissue stages by cell culture and gamma-IFNKO mouse bioassay, did not shed N. caninum-like oocysts over a 23 days observation period. The marked difference in pathogenicity between the two species of Neospora in gamma-IFNKO mice, and lack of oocyst excretion by dogs fed N. hughesi infected mice provide additional evidence that the species distinction between N. caninum and N. hughesi is valid.

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