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Sarcocystis neurona infections in sea otter (Enhydra lutris): evidence for natural infections with sarcocysts and transmission of infection to opossums (Didelphis virginiana)

Journal of Parasitology

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Abstract

Although Sarcocystis neurona has been identified in an array of terrestrial vertebrates, recent recognition of its capacity to infect marine mammals was unexpected. Here, sarcocysts from 2 naturally infected sea otters (Enhydra lutris) were characterized biologically, ultrastructurally, and genetically. DNA was extracted from frozen muscle of the first of these sea otters and was characterized as S. neurona by polymerase chain reation (PCR) amplification followed by restriction fragment length polymorphism analysis and sequencing. Sarcocysts from sea otter no. 1 were up to 350 I?m long, and the villar protrusions on the sarcocyst wall were up to 1.3 I?m long and up to 0.25 I?m wide. The villar protrusions were tapered towards the villar tip. Ultrastructurally, sarcocysts were similar to S. neurona sarcocysts from the muscles of cats experimentally infected with S. neurona sporocysts. Skeletal muscles from a second sea otter failed to support PCR amplification of markers considered diagnostic for S. neurona but did induce the shedding of sporocysts when fed to a laboratory-raised opossum (Didelphis virginiana). Such sporocysts were subsequently fed to knockout mice for the interferon-gamma gene, resulting in infections with an agent identified as S. neurona on the basis of immunohistochemistry, serum antibodies, and diagnostic sequence detection. Thus, sea otters exposed to S. neurona may support the development of mature sarcocysts that are infectious to competent definitive hosts.

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Article
Publication Subtype:
Journal Article
Title:
Sarcocystis neurona infections in sea otter (Enhydra lutris): evidence for natural infections with sarcocysts and transmission of infection to opossums (Didelphis virginiana)
Series title:
Journal of Parasitology
Volume
87
Issue:
6
Year Published:
2001
Language:
English
Contributing office(s):
National Wildlife Health Center
Description:
p. 1387-1393
Larger Work Type:
Article
Larger Work Subtype:
Journal Article
First page:
1387
Last page:
1393
Number of Pages:
7