Submitted to: Journal of Parasitology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: May 25, 2000
Publication Date: N/A
Interpretive Summary: Sarcocystis neurona is a single-celled parasite of companion animals and wild animals. It causes severe neurologic disorders in horses in the U.S. It's full life cycle is unknown. The opossum is its main reservoir and opossums excrete environmentally resistant sporocysts in their feces. Herbivores become infected by ingesting sporocysts from the feces of infected opossums. Horses and other animals are considered aberrant hosts for this parasite. ARS scientists report confirmation of S. neurona infection in mink, raccoons, a skunk, a cat and a pony. The results will be of interest to biologists, pathologists and parasitologists.
Protozoa in the central nervous system of 2 raccoons, 1 cat, 1 pony, 2 mink, and 1 skunk, previously thought to be Sarcocystis-like, reacted positively to Sarcocystis neurona-specific antibodies in an immunohistochemical test. In addition, S. neurona was identified in the brain of another skunk. These observations indicate that S. neurona is not confined to opossums and horses.