Species of the genus Sarcocystis are recognized as protozoan parasites infecting a wide range of animals, including humans. This study aimed to provide data on the occurrence, genetic characterization, and epidemiological significance of Sarcocystis spp. in cattle destined for human consumption in Romania. A total of 117 heart samples from slaughtered cattle in three southwestern Romanian counties (Dolj, Timi, and Gorj) were analyzed in order to detect sarcocysts, using fresh examination microscopic techniques. Subsequently, the isolated sarcocysts and/or cyst fragments (5-15 per sample) from each infected animal were molecularly characterized. Overall, 17.9% (21/117) of the tested animals were found to be Sarcocystis spp. positive by microscopy. Genetic characterization of Sarcocystis spp. isolates, based on sequence analysis of the 18S rRNA gene, showed the presence of a single species, namely S. cruzi. No correlation was found (p>0.05) between S. cruzi infection and the origin, age, breed, and gender of cattle, but the grazing farming system was positively associated (p=0.031) with the pathogen prevalence and can be considered a risk factor (OR = 3.6) in acquiring infection. To evaluate the possible public health risk, further investigation focused on the processing of other Sarcocystis-specific tissue matrices and evidence of human infections is recommended. This is the first study of bovine Sarcocystis infection in Romania.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Immunology and Microbiology(all)