Importance of serological cross-reactivity among Toxoplasma gondii, Hammondia spp., Neospora spp., Sarcocystis spp. and Besnoitia besnoiti
Toxoplasma gondii, Neospora spp., Sarcocystis spp., Hammondia spp. and Besnoitia besnoiti are genetically related cyst-forming coccidia. Serology is frequently used for the identification of T. gondii, Neospora spp. and B. besnoiti-exposed individuals. Serologic cross-reactions occur in different tests among animals infected with T. gondii and H. hammondi, as well as among animals infected by T. gondii and N. caninum. Infections caused by N. caninum and N. hughesi are almost indistinguishable by serology. Neospora caninum, B. besnoiti and Sarcocystis spp. infections in cattle show some degree of serologic cross-reactivity. Antibody cross-reactivity between Neospora spp. and H. heydorni-infected animals is suspected, but not proven to occur. We review serologic cross-reactivity among animals and/or humans infected with T. gondii, Neospora spp., Sarcocystis spp., Hammondia spp. and B. besnoiti. Emphasis is laid upon antigens and serological methods for N. caninum diagnosis which were tested for cross-reactivity with related protozoa. Species-specific antigens, as well as stage-specific proteins have been identified in some of these parasites and have promising use for diagnosis and epidemiological surveys.