Hepatozoon spp. infection in wild canids in the eastern United States

Eliza Baker, Alex Jensen, Debra Miller, Kayla Buck Garrett, Christopher A. Cleveland, Justin Brown, Kyle Van Why, Richard Gerhold

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: Hepatozoon spp. are apicomplexan parasites known to cause musculoskeletal disease in a variety of animals. Two species are known to infect wild and domestic canids in the US: Hepatozoon canis and H. americanum. Methods: In this study, blood, heart, and/or spleen samples were collected from 278 wild canids (180 coyotes, 93 red foxes, and 5 gray foxes) in the eastern US and tested via PCR for Hepatozoon. Histology slides of heart and skeletal muscle were assessed for Hepatozoon cysts and associated inflammation when fresh tissue was available (n = 96). Results: Hepatozoon spp. were found in 24.2% (59/278) of individuals, with Hepatozoon canis in 14.0% (34/278) and H. americanum in 10.7% (26/278). One coyote was positive for both H. canis and H. americanum. Foxes were more likely to be positive for H. canis than coyotes (23% and 7% respectively, P = 0.0008), while only coyotes were positive for H. americanum. Of the eight sampled states, H. canis was present in six (Louisiana, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia) while H. americanum was found in two southern states (South Carolina and Louisiana). Infection status was positively correlated with myositis and myocarditis, and heart or muscle cysts were found in 83% (5/6) of H. americanum-positive coyotes. Conclusion: This survey showed a moderate prevalence of H. canis and H. americanum in states where the parasite was previously unrecorded including South Carolina and Pennsylvania. Graphical Abstract: [Figure not available: see fulltext.].

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number372
JournalParasites and Vectors
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Parasitology
  • General Veterinary
  • Infectious Diseases

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