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Extensive production of Neospora caninum tissue cysts in a carnivorous marsupial succumbing to experimental neosporosis

Jessica S King1, Bronwyn McAllan2, Derek S Spielman1, Scott A Lindsay1, Lada Hůrková-Hofmannová3, Ashlie Hartigan1, Sarwat E Al-Qassab4, John T Ellis4 and Jan Šlapeta1*

Author Affiliations

1 Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia

2 Physiology and Bosch Institute, Faculty of Medicine, University of Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia

3 Department of Pathological Morphology and Parasitology, University of Veterinary and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Brno, 612 42, Czech Republic

4 School of Medical and Molecular Biosciences, University of Technology, Sydney, NSW 2007, Australia

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Veterinary Research 2011, 42:75  doi:10.1186/1297-9716-42-75

Published: 2 June 2011

Abstract

Experimental infections of Sminthopsis crassicaudata, the fat-tailed dunnart, a carnivorous marsupial widely distributed throughout the arid and semi-arid zones of Australia, show that this species can act as an intermediate host for Neospora caninum. In contrast to existing models that develop relatively few N. caninum tissue cysts, dunnarts offer a new animal model in which active neosporosis is dominated by tissue cyst production. The results provide evidence for a sylvatic life cycle of N. caninum in Australia between marsupials and wild dogs. It establishes the foundation for an investigation of the impact and costs of neosporosis to wildlife.