Molecular Evidence of Sarcocystis Species Infecting Reptiles in Peninsular Malaysia
AbstractThe genus Sarcocystis consists of intracellular coccidian protozoan parasites with the ability to invade muscle tissue and mature into sarcocysts, causing the zoonotic disease sarcocystosis. These parasites have an obligatory two-host life cycle, which correlates with prey-predator relationship. The distribution and prevalence of Sarcocystis in reptiles remains unclear, despite several previous reports. In this study, 54 faecal samples of various snake species and four faecal samples of several lizard species in Malaysia were examined for Sarcocystis through PCR amplification of the 18S rDNA sequence. Fourteen snake faecal samples were positive via PCR; however, only eight samples (14%) were found positive for Sarcocystis species, whereas four were positive for other genera and the identity of another three samples were unable to be determined. Further phylogenetic analysis of the 18S rDNA sequences revealed that the snakes were infected with either S. singaporensis, S. lacertae, or undefined Sarcocystis species which are closely related to either S. singaporensis or S. zuoi. Sarcocystis nesbitti infection was not identified in any of the infected snakes. This is the first report of identification of S. lacertae in the black-headed cat snake.
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