ABSTRACT

The coccidian parasite Cystoisospora canis (syn. Isospora canis) can cause clinical disease in dogs. Three generation of schizonts have been reported in the small intestine of dogs before oocysts are excreted 9–11 days post inoculation (PI). Here, we re-evaluated asexual development of C. canis in 2 dogs necropsied 10 days after oral inoculation with 100,000 C. canis oocysts; both dogs had excreted oocysts 9 days PI. Asexual and sexual stages were seen in the lamina propria throughout the small intestine. Merozoites of different sizes were present, often in the same vacuole. They were arranged singly, in pairs, and many within a single parasitophorous vacuole. The maximum number of nuclei within developing merozoites in a group was 8, but it could not be discerned if they were individual nuclei or parts of merozoites. Findings of abundant asexual stages 1 day after dogs had started excreting oocysts indicated continued asexual multiplication beyond the prepatent period. The stages found resemble the 3 generations reported previously. The mode of division of the asexual generations remains unclear. The results of the present study indicate that there are many generations that are difficult to determine because of the multiplication of merozoites in the original host cell without leaving it to enter new host cells. From the literature, it is evident that cat and dog coccidia (Cystoisospora spp.) divide by more than 1 type of division, including endodyogeny. In the past, the schizont/meront groups containing more than 1 generation have been called “cysts.” However, cyst is not an accurate term because it is best used for an orally infective stage of coccidia; monozoic tissue cysts of C. canis can occur in paratenic hosts in extraintestinal organs. We recommend the term “types” as originally proposed for intestinal stages of Toxoplasma gondii and used for the original description of the life cycle of C. suis of swine when describing endogenous stages of the Sarcocystidae. Ultrastructural studies are needed to determine the precise form of multiplication of canine Cystoisospora species.

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