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Sarcosporidiosis

Background

Sarcosporidiosis is defined as infection with Sarcocystis, which is an intracellular protozoan parasite. Sarcocystis predominantly infects nonhuman animals but can also infect humans.

Many Sarcocystis species exist, all of which are believed to have a requisite two-host life cycle. This life cycle is based on a predator-prey host relationship.
In the rare occurrence in which a human is the intermediate, or accidental, host, Sarcocystis organisms can be found in human skeletal and cardiac muscle.

Humans can also serve as the definitive host for Sarcocystis. This can occur following ingestion of the cysts in raw or undercooked beef or pork. After this invasion, the infective sporozoites replicate before being eliminated in the stool as sporocysts.
Once shed, sporocysts are typically ingested by an intermediate host (usually a cow or pig) and pass into the small intestine of this animal. Once in the intermediate host, the oocysts release motile sporozoites, which initially migrate into arteries throughout the body. They then become merozoites in the blood vessels and, finally, in muscle. Several noninfectious generations develop before finally maturing to become infectious sarcocysts.
 

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