A wild injured Iberian lynx (Lynx pardinus) was taken from the Sierra Morena population. During the health check small intraerythrocytic piroplasms, morphologically indistinguishable from other feline piroplasms, were observed in Wright-Giemsa-stained blood films. Amplification by polymerase chain reaction of a portion of the 18S nuclear small subunit (NSS) rRNA gene and sequencing revealed similarity of the unknown organism with sequences obtained from Pallas's cat from Mongolia and from a domestic cat in Spain. In a retrospective (1993–2003) study of 50 Iberian lynx tissue samples, no amplifications of the 18S NSS rRNA gene of the organism were obtained. This is the first report of a naturally occurring erythroparasitemia in the Iberian lynx and the first documented case of naturally occurring piroplasm infection in a free-ranging felid from Europe.
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Vol. 41 • No. 4