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Dynamics of Besnoitia besnoiti infection in cattle



Bovine besnoitiosis is caused by the cyst-forming apicomplexan parasite Besnoitia besnoiti. This disease progresses in two sequential phases: a febrile acute phase with oedemas and respiratory disorders, and a chronic phase characterized by the presence of subcutaneous tissue cysts and skin lesions. Serious consequences of the infection are poor body condition, sterility in bulls and eventual death. The role of host/parasite-dependent factors, which play a major role in the pathogenesis of the disease, is not yet fully elucidated. Isolate/strain virulence, parasite stage, dose and the route of parasite inoculation were studied under different experimental conditions, which make it difficult to compare the results. Data on host-dependent factors obtained from naturally infected cattle showed that (i) the seroprevalence of infection is similar in both sexes; (ii) seropositivity increases with age; (iii) both beef and dairy cattle are susceptible to the infection; and (iv) the cell-mediated immune response is likely to play a major role because a T cell response has been observed around several tissue cysts. Whether colostral antibodies are protective and to what extent the humoral immune response might reflect the disease/protection status require further research. Thus, a well-established experimental bovine model could help to clarify these important questions. The dynamics of B. besnoiti infection in cattle and available knowledge on relevant factors in the pathogenesis of the infection are reviewed in the present work.


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* Corresponding author: SALUVET, Animal Health Department, Faculty of Veterinary Sciences, Complutense University of Madrid, Ciudad Universitaria s/n., 28040-Madrid, Spain. E-mail:


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