Serological evidence of human infection with the protozoan Neospora caninum

Clin Diagn Lab Immunol. 1999 Sep;6(5):765-7. doi: 10.1128/CDLI.6.5.765-767.1999.


Neospora caninum is a protozoan parasite that is closely related to Toxoplasma gondii. Dogs are a definitive host. Prior to its discovery in 1988, N. caninum infection in animals was often mistakenly diagnosed as toxoplasmosis. Neosporosis in animals is characterized by encephalitis, abortion, and other conditions that clinically and pathologically resemble toxoplasmosis. The potential of N. caninum to infect humans is unknown. Therefore, evidence of human exposure to this parasite was sought by screening for antibodies in blood donors by indirect fluorescent antibody (IFA) tests and immunoblotting. Of 1,029 samples screened, 69 (6.7%) had titers of 1:100 by IFA testing. Fifty of the 69 (72%) sera that were positive for N. caninum were also negative for a closely related protozoan pathogen of humans, T. gondii. Immunoblot analysis confirmed the specificity of the positive sera for N. caninum antigens, with several sera recognizing multiple Neospora antigens with molecular masses similar to those of antigens recognized by monkey anti-N. caninum serum. An immunodominant antigen of approximately 35 kDa was observed with 12 sera. These data provide evidence of human exposure to N. caninum, although the antibody titers in healthy donors were low. The significance of human exposure to, and possible infection with, this parasite is unknown and warrants further study.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Protozoan / blood*
  • California
  • Chlorocebus aethiops
  • Coccidiosis / diagnosis*
  • Coccidiosis / immunology*
  • Dogs
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique, Indirect
  • Humans
  • Immunoblotting
  • Neospora / immunology*
  • Toxoplasma / immunology
  • Toxoplasmosis / diagnosis
  • Toxoplasmosis / immunology
  • Vero Cells / parasitology


  • Antibodies, Protozoan