Abstract

Toxoplasma gondii oocysts are morphologically and antigenically similar to oocysts of another feline coccidian, Hammondia hammondi. The distinction between H. hammondi and T. gondii is important from an epidemiological perspective because all isolates of T. gondii are potentially pathogenic for humans and animals, whereas H. hammondi is not known to cause clinical disease in any naturally infected intermediate or definitive hosts. In the present report, H. hammondi (designated HhCatEt1 and HhCatEt2) oocysts were found microscopically in the feces of 2 of 36 feral domestic cats (Felis catus) from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Oocysts were orally infective to Swiss Webster and gamma interferon gene knockout mice; the inoculated mice developed tissue cysts in their muscles. Laboratory-raised cats fed mouse tissues of infected mice shed H. hammondi oocysts with a prepatent period of 5 days. The DNA extracted from sporulated oocysts reacted with H. hammondi–specific primers, and sequences were deposited in GenBank (accession nos. JX477424, and KC223619). This is the first report of isolation of H. hammondi from cats from the African continent.

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