Sarcocystis neurona was isolated from the brain of a juvenile, male southern sea otter (Enhydra lutris nereis) suffering from CNS disease. Schizonts and merozoites in tissue sections of the otter's brain reacted with anti-S. neurona antiserum immunohistochemically. Development in cell culture was by endopolyogeny and mature schizonts were first observed at 3 days postinoculation. PCR of merozoite DNA using primer pairs JNB33/JNB54 and restriction enzyme digestion of the 1100 bp product with Dra I indicated the organism was S. neurona. Four of four interferon-γ gene knockout mice inoculated with merozoites developed S. neurona-associated encephalitis. Antibodies to S. neurona but not Sarcocystis falcatula, Toxoplasma gondii, or Neospora caninum were present in the serum of inoculated mice. This is the first isolation of S. neurona from the brain of a non-equine host.
Additional publication details
Biological characterisation of Sarcocystis neurona isolated from a Southern sea otter (Enhydra lutris nereis)