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TDK conference 2014

Investigations of the epidemiological and clinicopathological significance of Sarcocystis-infection among cattle and buffalo in Hungary
Jaggard Stephanie - year 4
SZIU Faculty of Veterinary Science, Department of Parasitology
Supervisor: Dr. Sandor Hornok


Sarcocystis species are unicellular parasites that belong to cystogenic coccidia (Apicomplexa: Sarcocystidae). During their life cycle they require both an intermediate and a final host, the former usually a herbivorous and the latter a carnivorous vertebrate animal. Cattle are long-known intermediate hosts of S. cruzi, S. hirsuta and S. hominis, with canids, felids and humans as final hosts, respectively. In addition, S. sinensis has been reported from cattle in a number of countries (including Germany), but its final host remains to be elucidated and the species name has recently been rendered nomen nudum. Among bovine Sarcocystis spp. S. hominis has public health importance, as it is able to cause gastrointestinal malaise in primates as final hosts; but "S. sinensis" may also elicit symptoms in humans and therefore can be regarded as potentially zoonotic. On the other hand, while S. cruzi is among those Sarcocystis spp. that may be highly pathogenic to the intermediate host, the current clinico¬pathological importance and prevalence of its infection is not known in Hungary, neither in the whole Central-Eastern European region. Therefore the aim of the present study was to compensate for the lack of relevant data.

Between May and August, 2014, oesophagus and heart muscle samples were collected from 151 beef cattle and from 15 buffalos in five slaughter houses. The source animals were originally kept in 32 places in Hungary, and belonged to six breeds. Altogether 100 cattle (i.e. 66%) were Sarcocystis PCR-positive, but none of the buffalos. There was no significant difference between the rates of infection among bulls and cows. However, the mean age of PCR-positive cattle was significantly higher, than that of PCR-negative ones. Sequencing revealed that S. cruzi was the most prevalent species, followed by "S. sinensis", with 100% sequence homology to representative sequences deposited in the GenBank.

In September, one week apart, fulminant deaths of two cattle were reported in northern Hungary. Both animals exhibited bleeding from the nose and vulva. Upon pathological examination multiple haemorrhages were seen on the surface of lungs, heart and kidneys, together with dilute, bloody contents in the urinary bladder. Tissue sections prepared from various organs could not reveal endothelial schizonts, but verified the presence of young cysts in the oesophageal wall and myocardium. Similarly, PCR results were negative for all evaluated organs, except for the oesophagus and the heart. Concerning the latter, sequencing identified S. cruzi, with only 99% homology to sequences deposited in the GenBank. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first report of fatal sarcocystiosis (resembling Dalmeny disease) of cattle in Central-Eastern Europe and Hungary.

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