Serological response of cats to experimental besnoitia darlingi and besnoitia neotomofelis infections and prevalence of antibodies to these parasites in cats from Virginia and Pennsylvania
Besnoitia darlingi and Besnoitia neotomofelis are cyst-forming tissue apicomplexan parasites that use domestic cats (Felis domesticus) as definitive hosts and opossums (Didelphis virginiana) and Southern Plains woodrats (Neotoma micropus) as intermediate hosts, respectively. Nothing is known about the prevalence of B. darlingi or B. neotomofelis in cats from the United States. Besnoitia darlingi infections have been reported in naturally infected opossums from many states in the United States, and B. neotomofelis infections have been reported from Southern Plains woodrats from Texas, but naturally infected cats have not been identified. The present study examined the IgG antibody response of cats to experimental infection (B. darlingi n = 1 cat; B. neotomofelis n = 3 cats). Samples from these cats were used to develop an indirect immunofluorescent antibody test (IFAT), which was then used to examine seroprevalence of IgG antibodies to tachyzoites of B. darlingi and B. neotomofelis in a population of domestic cats from Virginia (N = 232 cats) and Pennsylvania (N = 209). The serum from cats inoculated with B. darlingi or B. neotomofelis cross-reacted with each other's tachyzoites. The titers to heterologous tachyzoites were 1 to 3 dilutions lower than to homologous tachyzoites. Sera from B. darlingi- or B. neotomofelis-infected cats did not react with tachyzoites of Toxoplasma gondii or Neospora caninum or merozoites of Sarcocystis neurona using the IFAT. Antibodies to B. darlingi were found in 14% and 2% of cats from Virginia and Pennsylvania, respectively. Antibodies to B. neotomofelis were found in 5% and 4% of cats from Virginia and Pennsylvania, respectively. Nine cats from Virginia and 1 cat from Pennsylvania were positive for both.