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Evidence of Australian wild deer exposure to N. caninum infection and potential implications for the maintenance of N. caninum sylvatic cycle

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posted on 2024-02-26, 22:39 authored by Jose Luis Alfredo Huaman Torres, C Pacioni, M Doyle, DM Forsyth, Karla HelbigKarla Helbig, Ana-Teresa CarvalhoAna-Teresa Carvalho
Infections with the coccidian parasite Neospora caninum affect domestic and wild animals worldwide. In Australia, N. caninum infections cause considerable losses to the cattle industry with seroprevalence of 8.7% in beef and 10.9% in dairy cattle. Conversely, the role of wild animals, in maintaining the parasite cycle is also unclear. It is possible that native or introduced herbivorous species could be reservoir hosts of N. caninum in Australia, but to date, this has not been investigated. We report here the first large-scale screening of N. caninum antibodies in Australian wild deer, spanning three species (fallow, red and sambar deer). Consequently, we also assessed two commercial cELISA tests validated for detecting N. caninum in cattle for their ability to detect N. caninum antibodies in serum samples of wild deer. N. caninum antibodies were detected in 3.7% (7/189, 95% CI 1.8 – 7.45) of the wild deer serum samples collected in south-eastern Australia (n = 189), including 97 fallow deer (Dama dama), 14 red deer (Cervus elaphus), and 78 sambar deer (Rusa unicolor). Overall, our study provides the first detection of N. caninum antibodies in wild deer and quantifies deer's potential role in the sylvatic cycle of N. caninum.


This study was funded by the Centre for Invasive Species Solutions (Grant PO1-L-002).


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BMC Veterinary Research



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