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High lipid storage in vacoular forms of subtype 6 blastocystis sp. in ostrich

Chandrasekaran, Hemalatha, Govind, Suresh Kumar, Panchadcharam, Chandrawathani, Bathmanaban, Premaalatha, Raman, Kalyani, Thergarajan, Gaythri
Parasites & vectors 2014 v.7 no.1 pp. 469
Blastocystis, cattle, farms, feces, host specificity, humans, industry, ostriches, parasites, pathogenicity, rats, swine, transmission electron microscopy, vacuoles, Sudan
BACKGROUND: Blastocystis sp., a widely prevalent intestinal protozoan parasite is found in a wide range of animals, including humans. The possibility of zoonotic transmission to human from birds especially ostriches led us to investigate on the cross infectivity of Blastocystis sp. isolated from the ostrich feces as well as the phenotypic and subtype characteristics. There is a need to investigate this especially with the rising number of ostrich farms due to the growing global ostrich industry. FINDINGS: 100% of the ostriches were found to be positive for Blastocystis sp. using the in-vitro cultivation method. Transmission electron microscopy revealed high electron dense material in the central body of the vacoular forms. The membrane layer of the ostrich isolate was significantly (p = 0.003) thicker as compared to human isolate. Sudan staining revealed that this was lipid accumulation. We provide evidence for the first time, the existence of subtype 6 which has been previously reported only in pigs and cattle. Cysts, ranging from 3.0 to 7.0 μm in diameter caused experimental infection in Sprague Dawley rats implicating that Blastocystis sp. isolated from ostriches exhibits low host specificity. CONCLUSION: The study for the first time demonstrates that Blastocystis sp. subtype 6 do exist in ostriches and show high lipid storage in the vacuoles of the parasites. The study further provides evidence for potential zoonotic transmission in ostrich farms as Blastocystis subtype 6 can infect rats and the same subtype have been previously reported in humans.