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Crab-eating fox (Cerdocyon thous), a South American canid, as a definitive host forHammondia heydorni

Veterinary Parasitology
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/j.vetpar.2009.02.003
  • Cerdocyon Thous
  • Hammondia Heydorni
  • Oocysts
  • Crab-Eating Fox
  • Toxoplasmatinae
  • Biology


Abstract Hammondia heydorni is a cyst forming coccidia closely related to other apicomplexans, such as Toxoplasma gondii, Neospora caninum and Hammondia hammondi with a two-host life cycle. Dogs and other canids as red foxes ( Vulpes vulpes) and coyotes ( Canis latrans) may serve as definitive hosts for H. heydorni. Sporulated oocysts are infective for cattle, sheep and goats, which may serve as intermediate hosts. Herein, we describe the ability of crab-eating fox ( Cerdocyon thous), a wild carnivore that is commonly found from northern Argentina to northern South America, to serve as definitive host of H. heydorni. The whole masseter muscle and brain from two 2-year-old bovines were collected, minced and pooled together for the fox infection. The bovine pooled tissues were equally administered to four foxes, in two consecutive days. Two foxes shed subspherical unsporulated oocysts measuring 10–15 μm, after 8 and 9 days post-infection, respectively. One of the foxes eliminated oocysts for 5 days, while the other fox shed oocysts for 9 days. A DNA sample of oocysts detected at each day of oocyst elimination was tested by two PCRs, one of them carried out employing primers directed to the common toxoplasmatiid 18S and 5.8S ribosomal RNA coding genes (PCR-ITS1) and the other based on heat-shock protein 70 kDa coding gene (PCR-HSP70). These samples were also submitted to a N. caninum specific nested-PCR protocol based on a N. caninum specific gene (Nc5-nPCR). All of them were positive by PCR-ITS1 and PCR-HSP70 but negative by Nc5-nPCR. The PCR-ITS1 and PCR-HSP70 nucleotide sequences amplified from the oocysts shed by the foxes revealed 100% identity with homologous sequences of H. heydorni. In conclusion, it is clear that H. heydorni also uses the crab-eating fox as a definitive host. The crab-eating fox is usually reported to live in close contact with livestock in several regions of Brazil. Therefore, it is reasonable to infer that such carnivores may play an important role in the sylvatic and domestic cycles of H. heydorni infection.

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