Scarce information is available about Neospora caninum oocysts and sporozoites, in part because only small numbers of oocysts have typically been produced by experimentally infected dogs. We hypothesized that 1 reason for low experimental production of oocysts is that dogs have been fed tissues from experimentally infected mice instead of tissues from cattle (which are natural intermediate hosts of N. caninum). In this study, 9 dogs were fed tissues from N. caninum–infected calves, and oocyst production was compared with 6 dogs that were fed infected mouse carcasses. The number of oocysts produced by dogs that ingested infected calf tissues (mean = 160,700) was significantly greater (P = 0.03) than the number of oocysts shed by dogs that ingested infected mice (mean = 5,400). The second goal of our experiment was to demonstrate cyclical oral transmission of N. caninum between dogs and cattle. As few as 300 oocysts were used to successfully infect calves, and tissues from these calves induced patent infections in 2 of 3 dogs; oocysts from 1 of these dogs were administered to another calf, and tissues from this calf subsequently induced a third dog to shed oocysts. Oocysts were confirmed to be N. caninum using a species-specific polymerase chain reaction technique. In addition, sporulated oocysts were used to recover N. caninum in vitro after digestion in an acid–pepsin solution and inoculation of cell monolayers.

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