A small piroplasm was detected in blood smears from lions (Panthera leo) in the Kruger National Park (KNP; Republic of South Africa) during 1991/1992. The parasite was identified provisionally as Babesia felis, but sera from these lions tested negative to B. felis antigen in the indirect immunofluorescent antibody test (IFAT). Blood from an infected lion was subsequently subinoculated into a domestic cat and two leopards in an attempt to identify the parasite. A lion also was infected with B. felis (from a cat). Serum samples collected from these animals were tested against B. felis, the KNP small piroplasm, and Cytauxzoon felis antigen in the IFAT. The serological results indicate that the KNP small piroplasm isolated from the lion is probably a distinct species from B. felis and C. felis.
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Vol. 35 • No. 1