Each of five adult and four juvenile coyotes (Canis latrans) was exposed to an oral dose of 50 Hepatozoon americanum oocysts recovered from Amblyomma maculatum ticks that previously fed on either naturally infected domestic dogs (Canis familiaris) or naturally infected wild coyotes. All coyotes exposed to H. americanum became infected, regardless of isolate source, and all exhibited mild to moderate clinical disease that simulated American canine hepatozoonosis in naturally infected dogs. At 100 days postexposure, parasitemia was greater in juvenile than adult coyotes (0.9% and 0.3%, respectively); radiographic imaging of femurs revealed moderate exostosis in all juveniles and mild to moderate new bone growth in four of five (80%) adult coyotes. Gross postmortem analysis of bone lesions demonstrated variation between age groups of coyotes but not between isolates of H. americanum. Microscopic evaluation of skeletal muscle revealed that parasite-induced lesions were significantly more numerous (t =5.0, df=7, P=0.001) in juvenile than adult coyotes. Results of this study indicate that juvenile and adult coyotes are equally susceptible to experimental infection with H. americanum isolated from domestic dog and wild coyote sources. The age of coyotes at the time of exposure, and possibly the number of H. americanum oocysts ingested, might influence morbidity and mortality, but it appears that both adult and juvenile coyotes could be reservoirs of H. americanum.
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Vol. 41 • No. 3