Equine protozoal myeloencephalitis is the most important protozoan disease of horses in North America and is usually caused by Sarcocystis neurona. Natural cases of encephalitis caused by S. neurona have been reported in skunks (Mephitis mephitis) and raccoons (Procyon lotor). Opossums (Didelphis spp.) are the only known definitive host. Sera from 24 striped skunks, 12 raccoons, and 7 opossums (D. virginiana) from Connecticut were examined for agglutinating antibodies to S. neurona using the S. neurona agglutination test (SAT) employing formalin-fixed merozoites as antigen. The SAT was validated for skunk sera using pre- and postinfection serum samples from 2 experimentally infected skunks. Of the 24 (46%) skunks 11 were positive, and all 12 raccoons were positive for S. neurona antibodies. None of the 7 opossums was positive for antibodies to S. neurona. These results suggest that exposure to sporocysts of S. neurona by intermediate hosts is high in Connecticut. The absence of antibodies in opossums collected from the same areas is most likely because of the absence of systemic infection in the definitive host.
Prevalence of Agglutinating Antibodies to Sarcocystis neurona in Skunks (Mephitis mephitis), Raccoons (Procyon lotor), and Opossums (Didelphis virginiana) From Connecticut
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Sheila M. Mitchell, Dennis J. Richardson, M. Andy Cheadle, Anne M. Zajac, David S. Lindsay; Prevalence of Agglutinating Antibodies to Sarcocystis neurona in Skunks (Mephitis mephitis), Raccoons (Procyon lotor), and Opossums (Didelphis virginiana) From Connecticut. J Parasitol 1 October 2002; 88 (5): 1027–1029. doi: https://doi.org/10.1645/0022-3395(2002)088[1027:POAATS]2.0.CO;2
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