Isospora (CYSTOISOSPORA) spp.

Cystoisospora is a genus of parasitic protozoa belonging to the phylum Apicomplexa.



This genus was originally created by Frenkel in 1977. Its use was discontinued but was resurrected in 2005 by Barta et al. This genus is currently used to group species that have tetrasporozoic, diplosporocystic oocysts without Stieda bodies in their sporocysts. These species infect the entrocytes of mammals and are transmitted by the orofaecal route.  DNA analysis has shown that this genus belongs to the family Sarcocystidae.  The type species of this genus is Cystoisospora felis Wenyon 1923.



These parasite has been isolated from dogs, cats and raccoons. C. belli has been isolated from immunosuppressed humans - particularly those with HIV infection.  These parasites normally infect the entrocytes of the small intestine and are spread by the orofaecal route. The definitive hosts are cats but other species including various species of rodents may be infected. No further development occurs in these paratenic hosts and the parastites remain dormant until ingested by a definitive host.



This genus has been recorded worldwide. C. felis and C. rivolta occur in up to 40% of cats in some tropical countries.



Clinical signs include watery diarrhoea, vomiting, fever and weight loss. The diagnosis is made by microscopic examination of the stool. Distinguishing between the species of Cystoisospora is most easily done with PCR. This method can also be used to make the diagnosis.  Treatment is based on trimethoprim-sulfonamides with clindamycin or toltrazuril for resistant strains.



Hygiene on the premises is important in prevention. Good litter tray hygiene is also critical in multi-cat households. Utensils, runs, cages and other implements should be steam-cleaned or washed in boiling water. Because of the importance of paratenic hosts such as cockroaches, insect control is critical. 


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