Abstract:

Nine opossums, Didelphis aurita, were captured in the city of Seropédica, State of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and examined for species of Sarcocystis. Sporocysts were observed in the mucosal scrapings of the small intestine from 3 opossums. Five budgerigars, Melopsittacus undulatus, were infected with sporocysts from each of these infected opossums and 5 budgerigars were used as controls. Of the 15 sporocyst-treated budgerigars, 5 birds that received sporocysts from 1 of the infected opossums developed tissue parasites. Meronts in the vascular endothelium of the lung venous capillaries and cysts in the skeletal and cardiac muscle cells were observed in histological sections stained with hematoxylin and eosin. The microscopic cysts, which were predominantly in the tongue and leg muscles, ranged from 65.3 to 118.1 μm in length and 14.0 to 29.4 μm in width and from 0.9 to 1.9 μm in thickness of the cystic wall. Sections examined by transmission electron microscopy revealed that the cyst wall contained numerous slender and jagged-shaped protrusions, each with a finger-like formation at the end. The morphology, especially of the cyst wall, and the morphometry of the tissue cysts indicate that the parasite is Sarcocystis lindsayi and, therefore, the opossum, D. aurita, is now considered a definitive host for this species in Brazil.

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