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The prevalence of Neospora caninum and co-infection with Toxoplasma gondii by PCR analysis in naturally occurring mammal populations

  • J. M. HUGHES (a1), R. H. WILLIAMS (a1), E. K. MORLEY (a1), D. A. N. COOK (a1), R. S. TERRY (a2), R. G. MURPHY (a3), J. E. SMITH (a2) and G. HIDE (a1)...

Neospora caninum and Toxoplasma gondii are closely related intracellular protozoan parasites associated with bovine and ovine abortion respectively. Little is known about the extent of Neospora/Toxoplasma co-infection in naturally infected populations of animals. Using nested PCR techniques, based on primers from the Nc5 region of N. caninum and SAG1 for T. gondii, the prevalence of N. caninum and its co-infection with T. gondii were investigated in populations of Mus domesticus, Rattus norvegicus and aborted lambs (Ovis aries). A low frequency of infection with N. caninum was detected in the Mus domesticus (3%) and Rattus norvegicus (4·4%) populations. A relatively high frequency of infection with N. caninum was detected in the brains of aborted lambs (18·9%). There was no significant relationship between N. caninum and T. gondii co-infection. Investigation of the tissue distribution of Neospora, in aborted lambs, showed that Neospora could not be detected in tissues other than brain and this was in contrast to Toxoplasma where the parasite could be frequently detected in a range of tissues.

Corresponding author
Centre for Parasitology, Molecular Epidemiology and Ecology, Biosciences Research Institute, School of Environment and Life Sciences, University of Salford, Salford M5 4WT. Tel: +161 295 3371. Fax: +161 295 5015. E-mail:
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