Babesia odocoilei from white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) in Texas (USA) and B. capreoli isolated from sika deer (Cervus nippon) in Ireland were compared morphologically and antigenically. Babesia odocoilei and B. capreoli paired pyriforms resembled each other closely when in sika deer, but B. odocoilei pyriforms in white-tailed deer were slightly different. Babesia odocoilei in white-tailed deer also differed from B. odocoilei and B. capreoli in sika deer in the frequency of its developmental forms. Indirect immunofluorescence antibody test titres showed that there was some antigen cross-reactivity, but not as much as between B. capreoli and the bovine parasite, B. divergens. The Babesia spp. from deer that we studied appear to be distinct but related species. The low infectivity of B. odocoilei for a splenectomised sika deer suggests that sika deer in North America are probably not very susceptible to this parasite in the wild.
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Vol. 27 • No. 1