Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor

Ernest J. Hugghins


The incidence of Sarocystis, a protozoan parasite, in white-tailed deer and mule deer in South Dakota was determined through histological preparation and microscopic examination of tongue samples throughout the state. The percentage of Sarcocystis infection for both species of deer was determined for prairies east of the Missouri River, west of the Missouri River, and the Black Hills of western South Dakota. Sixteen percent of the white-tailed deer tongues from East River and 69 percent from West River, and 74 percent from the Black Hills were positive. Mule deer were 88 percent, 78 percent and 75 percent positive from East River (counties bordering the Missouri River), West River, and the Black Hills respectively. Of 50 tongue samples obtained from both species of deer during a special anterless season in the Black Hills (1978), 66 percent were infected. Experimental coyotes and dogs were fed naturally infected Sarcocystis tissue from white-tailed and mule deer obtained from the Black Hills. Fecal samples were recovered and examined for sporocysts. Two red foxes, one grey fox one bobcat, and one racoon were also fed infected met to determine their role is any as definitive (final) hosts of Sarcocystis. All coyotes, dogs, and the grey fox shed sporocysts, while none were recovered from the other animals. Sporocysts from coyotes fed white-tailed and mule deer meat were counted and concentrated into an inoculum for oral administration to two experimental white-tailed deer fawns in separate experiments. One fawn given sporocysts from coyote feces fed mule deer tissue died two days later (not Sarcocystis related). The other fawn was euthanized 85 days after inoculation. Sections of heart, tongue, esophagus, diaphragm, and skeletal muscle were found to be heavily infected with Sarcocystis, while a control fawn’s tissues were negative.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Deer -- South Dakota



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University