Detection of sarcocystis neurona in the brain of a grant's zebra (equus burchelli bohmi)

Antoinette E. Marsh, Mary Denver, Frazer I. Hill, M. R. McElhaney, J. G. Trupkiewicz, James Stewart, Lisa A Tell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


An 8-yr-old intact male Grant's zebra (Equus burchelli bohmi) was referred to the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital of the University of California-Davis after being found in the owner's pasture obtunded and in lateral recumbency. The animal was hypothermic, weak, and unwilling to rise. There was no evidence of trauma, and the zebra had seemed normal the preceding evening. There was no extensor rigidity, and cranial nerve reflexes were normal. Flexor and extensor reflexes were weak upon initial examination. A complete blood count and serum biochemistry analysis revealed a mild leukocytosis, hyperfibrinogenemia, hypoglycemia, hyponatremia, hypochloremia, hypocalcemia, and hypoalbuminemia. Urinalysis was normal, and a urine toxicology screen for alkaloids was negative. No toxic substance was found in the hay or pasture grasses although the owner reported the presence of yellow star thistle and mushrooms in the pasture. The cerebrospinal fluid cytologic and biochemical analyses were normal, but antibodies to Sarcocystis neurona were detected. The zebra died despite aggressive supportive therapy over a 4-day period. The necropsy demonstrated severe gastrointestinal nematodiasis that could account for hypoalbuminemia and electrolyte abnormalities. Histopathologic examination of the nervous system revealed focal areas of perivascular cuffing in the brainstem that were comprised mainly of lymphocytes, monocytes, and plasma cells. Immunohistochemical staining identified the presence of S. neurona merozoites associated with the lesions. This zebra probably died from severe endoparasitism that resulted in malabsorption, weakness, and recumbency rather than from encephalitis associated with S. neurona merozoites. Equine protozoal myeloencephalitis has not been reported previously in nondomestic equids.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)82-86
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2000


  • Case report
  • Equine protozoal myeloencephalitis
  • Equus burchelii bohmi
  • Grant's zebra
  • Sarcocystis neurona

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • veterinary(all)


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