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Molecular identification of Sarcocystis rileyi sporocysts in red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) and raccoon dogs (Nyctereutes procyonoides) in Lithuania

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Abstract

Despite the fact that Sarcocystis rileyi is one of the earliest described species of the genus Sarcocystis forming macrocysts in ducks, the life cycle of this species is still unknown in Europe. Sarcocystis spp. oocysts/sporocysts were observed in faeces of four of 23 (17.4 %) and in small intestine mucosal scrapings of four of 20 (20.0 %) red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) and in small intestine mucosal scrapings of seven of 13 (53.8 %) raccoon dogs (Nyctereutes procyonoides) hunted in Lithuania. A very small number of Sarcocystis sporocysts measuring 11.9 × 8.3 μm (n = 5) was found in faecal samples, whereas considerably more sporulated Sarcocystis oocysts and free sporocysts were detected in the small intestines of red foxes and raccoon dogs. These sporocysts measured 12.9 × 8.1 μm (n = 16) and 12.1 × 8.1 μm (n = 54) in red foxes and raccoon dogs, respectively. Using species-specific PCR and subsequent sequencing, internal transcribed spacer 1 (ITS-1) region partial sequences of oocysts/sporocysts from small intestine mucosal scrapings of six raccoon dogs and three red foxes were identified as belonging to S. rileyi. The present study provides strong evidence showing that the red fox and the raccoon dog can serve as final hosts of S. rileyi in Europe; however, transmission experiments are needed for the ultimate approval.

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Acknowledgments

This work was funded by grant no. MIP-055/2013 from the Research Council of Lithuania.

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Correspondence to Petras Prakas.

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Prakas, P., Liaugaudaitė, S., Kutkienė, L. et al. Molecular identification of Sarcocystis rileyi sporocysts in red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) and raccoon dogs (Nyctereutes procyonoides) in Lithuania. Parasitol Res 114, 1671–1676 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00436-015-4348-8

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