Prevalence of agglutinating antibodies to Sarcocystis neurona in raccoons (Procyon lotor) from an urban area of Virginia
Equine protozoal myeloencephalitis is the most important protozoan disease of horses in North America and is usually caused by Sarcocystis neurona. Natural and experimentally induced cases of encephalitis caused by S. neurona have been reported in raccoons (Procyon lotor) and raccoons are an intermediate host for this parasite. A 3-yr-long serological survey was conducted to determine the prevalence of agglutinating antibodies to S. neurona in raccoons collected from Fairfax County, Virginia, a suburban-urban area outside Washington, D.C. Samples from 469 raccoons were examined, and agglutinating antibodies ( greater than or equal to 1:50 dilution) were found in 433 (92.3%) of the raccoons. This study indicates that exposure to S. neurona is high in this metropolitan area.