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J Parasitol. 1998 Dec;84(6):1158-64.

Isolation of a third species of Sarcocystis in immunodeficient mice fed feces from opossums (Didelphis virginiana) and its differentiation from Sarcocystis falcatula and Sarcocystis neurona.

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U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Livestock and Poultry Sciences Institute, Beltsville Agricultural Research Center, Maryland 20705-2350, USA.


Opossums (Didelphis virginiana) were found to be hosts for 3 species of Sarcocystis: Sarcocystis falcatula with an avian intermediate host, S. neurona with an undetermined intermediate host, and a third, unnamed, species. Sporocysts from the intestines of 2 opossums (nos. 26 and 47) were fed to budgerigars (Melopsittacus undulatus), nude mice, and gamma-interferon knockout (KO) mice. Sporocysts of S. falcatula were not infective to nude or KO mice. Sporocysts of S. neurona induced encephalitis in KO and nude mice; only schizonts and merozoites were found in tissues of mice, and they reacted with anti-S. neurona serum raised against the SN-2 isolate of S. neurona originally obtained from tissues of a paralyzed horse. All 3 species of Sarcocystis were present in opossum no. 47. Sarcocystis neurona was isolated in cell culture from this opossum. Sporocysts from opossum no. 47 were lethal to budgerigars, indicating S. falcatula infection. Only 1 species of Sarcocystis (the third species) was found in opossum no. 26; the sporocysts were infective to KO and nude mice. Schizonts and merozoites of this species were predominantly in the liver but were also found in other tissues; schizonts did not react with anti-S. neurona serum. Merozoites of the third species were ultrastructurally distinct from S. falcatula and S. neurona merozoites. Sarcocysts were found in leg muscles of 2 mice killed 50 and 54 days after they were fed sporocysts from opossum no. 26. These sarcocysts had steeple-shaped protrusions on the cyst wall and were distinct from sarcocysts of S. falcatula and any other species of Sarcocystis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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