Fatal hepatic sarcocystosis was diagnosed in a striped dolphin (Stenella coeruleoalba) from the northeastern Spanish Mediterranean coast based on pathologic findings and the microscopic and ultrastructural characteristics of the intralesional parasite. Main gross lesions were icterus, subcutaneous hemorrhages, and hepatic congestion. The most prominent microscopic lesions consisted of severe acute multifocal to coalescing necrotizing hepatitis with cholestasis and intralesional protozoa. There was severe chronic pancreatitis with generalized distension of pancreatic ducts by hyaline plugs and adult trematodes. Only asexual stages of the protozoa were found. The parasite in the liver divided by endopolygeny. Schizonts varied in shape and size. Mature schizonts had merozoites randomly arranged or budding peripherally around a central residual body. Schizonts were up to 22 μm long, and merozoites were up to 6 μm long. Ultrastructurally, merozoites lacked rhoptries. This parasite failed to react by immunohistochemistry with anti–Toxoplasma gondii, anti–Neospora caninum and anti–Sarcocystis neurona antibodies. The microscopic and ultrastructural morphologies of the parasite were consistent with Sarcocystis canis, so far described only from animals in the Unites States. The life cycle and source of S. canis are unknown. The present report of S. canis–like infection in a sea mammal from Spain indicates that the definitive host for this parasite also exists outside of the United States.
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