The dose-related infectivity of Sarcocystis neurona sporocysts and merozoites of 2 recent isolates of S. neurona was compared in gamma interferon knockout (KO) mice. Tenfold dilutions of sporocysts or merozoites were bioassayed in mice, cell culture, or both. All 8 mice, fed 1,000 sporocysts, developed neurological signs with demonstrable S. neurona in their tissues. Of 24 mice fed low numbers of sporocysts (100, 10, 1), 18 became ill by 4 wk postinoculation, and S. neurona was demonstrated in their brains; antibodies (S. neurona agglutination test) to S. neurona and S. neurona parasites were not found in tissues of the 6 mice that were fed sporocysts and survived for >39 days. One thousand culture-derived merozoites of these 2 isolates were pathogenic to all 8 mice inoculated subcutaneously (s.c.). Of the 24 mice inoculated s.c. with merozoites numbering 100, 10, or 1, only 3 mice had demonstrable S. neurona infection; antibodies to S. neurona were not found in the 21 mice that had no demonstrable organisms. As few as 10 merozoites were infective for cell cultures. These results demonstrate that at least 1,000 merozoites are needed to cause disease in KO mice. Sarcocystis neurona sporocysts were infective to mice by the s.c. route.

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