Epierythrocytic parasites associated with a severe anemic episode have not been previously reported in the opossum. A Wright-Giemsa–stained peripheral blood smear from an anemic North American opossum (Didelphis virginiana) revealed numerous organisms attached to red blood cells either singularly or in chains. Ring forms of the organism were common and could be found free in the plasma. Electron microscopy revealed that these organisms were attached to the intact plasma membrane in depressions on the surface of red blood cells. Delicate fibrils between the organism and adjacent membrane were observed. The organisms were round to oval with a diameter of 300–750 nm and were enclosed by a single limiting membrane. The light and electron microscopic features of these epierythrocytic organisms are similar to those reported for Eperythrozoon and Haemobartonella species.
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Vol. 31 • No. 2