• Heinz Mehlhorn


The ten currently described Besnoitia species belong to those coccidians—Apicomplexa—that produce tissue cysts worldwide in domestic and wild ungulates, equids, rodents, lagomorphs, marsupials, and reptiles, which all act species-specifically as intermediate host. While the life cycles of those species, which use smaller animals such as rabbits, rodents, mice, rats, opossums, and lizards as intermediate hosts and cats as final hosts, are established, those life cycles involving cattle, goats, horses, donkeys, and related wild animals are still unknown. However, there are several indications that insects may play an important role in the life cycle, since they were found to be able to transmit cystozoites from the tissue cysts—which occur in the surface skin of their hosts—to wounds of other hosts thus initiating an infection, while other pathways of transmission, e.g., via final hosts producing infectious oocysts, are still unknown. This chapter summarizes the present knowledge of the species of this neglected but apparently spreading genus of coccidian parasites. Although the mortality rates in afflicted cattle herds rarely exceed 10%, they are of considerable economic importance.


Besnoitiosis Bovine besnoitiosis Besnoitia besnoiti Emerging disease Vector-borne disease 


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© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of ParasitologyHeinrich Heine UniversityDüsseldorfGermany

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