Infestation with or disease caused by sporozoan protozoans of the genus Sarcocystis. Wildlife of many different species appear to be susceptible (mammals, birds and reptiles).

In most animals Sarcocystis infections are not considered to be of any serious pathogenic significance. However, heavy infections have caused mortality in sheep, pigs and mice. There are no recognizable signs of the infection in most living animals, and a diagnosis of Sarcocystis is almost always made after death. In heavy infections, lameness, weakness and paralysis have been reported.

At this time so much is unknown about Sarcocystis that it is recommended that infected meat from ducks and rabbits not be used for human consumption (although the organism is not considered pathogenic for humans) or fed to cats and dogs.


Sarcocystis is worldwide in distribution. It is found in many species, including sheep, cattle, horses, swine, dogs, cats, rabbits, mice, chickens and humans. Many wildlife species have been found to be infected, including deer, moose, elk, caribou, ducks, seals and many others.

In the USA, sarcosporidiosis is a disease of aviary birds spread by opossum faeces, rats, cockroaches, and rainwater that washes over faeces that have been left on roof tops. Wild birds recorded with the infection are mallard duck, black duck, redhead duck, common golden-eye, blue-winged teal, Canada goose, ring-necked pheasant, moose, cottontail rabbit, red-tailed hawk, cooper's hawk, sharptailed grouse, American woodcock and morning dove. Mallards and black ducks are the ducks most commonly reported with the disease.

Medicine Specific diseases
Related UN Sustainable Development Goals:
GOAL 3: Good Health and Well-beingGOAL 15: Life on Land
Problem Type:
G: Very specific problems
Date of last update
04.10.2020 – 22:48 CEST