Neospora caninum: detection in wild rabbits and investigation of co-infection with Toxoplasma gondii by PCR analysis

Exp Parasitol. 2008 Nov;120(3):255-60. doi: 10.1016/j.exppara.2008.07.011. Epub 2008 Jul 30.


Neospora caninum is an important pathogen of cattle causing significant economic loss. There is much current interest in wild animal reservoirs for this parasite. The role of the rabbit in this is currently unknown. DNA samples from the brains of wild rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus) collected from the Malham area of the Yorkshire dales were investigated by species-specific PCR for the presence of N. caninum and Toxoplasma gondii. We found prevalences of N. caninum of 10.5% (6/57) and T. gondii of 68.4% (39/57) with 8.8% (5/57) co-infected. Strain typing of T. gondii positive rabbits revealed strain types I-III were present in this population. Investigation of tissue distribution determined N. caninum DNA was most often detected in the brain and heart, less often in the tongue and not in the liver. To our knowledge this is the first report of N. caninum detection in naturally infected wild rabbits.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Coccidiosis / complications
  • Coccidiosis / epidemiology
  • Coccidiosis / parasitology
  • Coccidiosis / veterinary*
  • DNA, Protozoan / analysis
  • Disease Reservoirs / veterinary*
  • England / epidemiology
  • Neospora / genetics
  • Neospora / isolation & purification*
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction / veterinary
  • Prevalence
  • Rabbits / parasitology*
  • Toxoplasma / classification
  • Toxoplasma / genetics
  • Toxoplasma / isolation & purification
  • Toxoplasmosis, Animal / complications*
  • Toxoplasmosis, Animal / epidemiology
  • Toxoplasmosis, Animal / parasitology


  • DNA, Protozoan