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Infections caused by protozoa belonging to the Sarcocystidae family have worldwide distribution and are common in ruminants, leading to considerable economic losses. This study evaluates Sarcocystis spp., Toxoplasma gondii and Neospora caninum infections in sheep from Southwest region of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil. Myocardium samples of 80 sheep raised on extensive system were collected. Tissue cysts were detected by direct examination and presence of infective agents was confirmed by PCR. Macroscopic evaluation did not reveal changes, but direct microscopic examination showed cysts in 76.2% (61/80, 95% CI: 66.9 - 85.9) samples, and all cysts were morphologically similar to those caused by Sarcocystis tenella or Sarcocystis arieticanis. PCR detected Sarcocystis spp. DNA in 21.2% (17/80, CI: 12.3-30.2) of the tested samples and T. gondii DNA in 15% (12/80, CI: 7.2-22.8). Moreover, 6.2% (5/80, CI: 2.1-13.9) samples contained DNA of both protozoan. The presence of N. caninum nucleic acids was not observed in tested samples. However, all PCR-positive samples (23.7%-19/80, CI: 14.4-33.1) were also positive by direct examination (microscopic cysts). Thus, a high occurrence of microscopic tissue cysts was detected in sheep from southwest region of Rio Grande do Sul State. Although PCR did not show good sensitivity to identify the causative agents of these cysts, it revealed the presence of Sarcocystis spp. and T. gondii in ovine cardiac muscle samples. This may predispose the contamination of animals and humans by these protozoa.
Portella, L. P., Cadore, G. C., Sangioni, L. A., Alves, M. E. M., Chemeris, R., Brum, L. P., & Vogel, F. S. F. (2016). Detecção molecular de protozoários da família Sarcocystidae em ovinos no estado do Rio Grande do Sul, Brasil. Ciencia Rural, 46(9), 1613–1617. https://doi.org/10.1590/0103-8478cr20151365
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