Toxoplasma gondii parasites belonging to endemic genotype II caused fatal infection in three (16%) of 19 Eurasian red squirrels (Sciurus vulgaris) sent for necropsy in Finland between May 2006 and April 2009. The liver, spleen, and lungs were the organs most affected in all three cases, and high numbers of T. gondii parasites were visualized immunohis-tochemically in all the tissue samples available from them. The genotyping of the parasite strains was based on the results of analysis of length polymorphism at six microsatellite markers (B18, TUB2, TgM-A, W35, B17, and M33). The length of the PCR product at the additional seventh marker (M48) was 233 base pairs from the first two cases that were found dead together, suggesting a common infection source, and 215 base pairs from the third. Eurasian red squirrels may be exceptionally susceptible to T. gondii infection.
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Vol. 48 • No. 2