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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Related Topics

Research Project: Assessment of Toxoplasma Gondii in Goat’s Meat, Milk, and Cheese Role in Transmission of Toxoplasmosis to Humans

Location: Animal Parasitic Diseases

2012 Annual Report


1a.Objectives (from AD-416):
To assess role of goat meat, milk, and cheese as risk factors for Toxoplasma infection in humans, and pregnant women in particular.


1b.Approach (from AD-416):
Meat from naturally infected goats will be surveyed for viable Toxoplasma. Goats will be experimentally infected and the excretion of viable Toxoplasma will be studied.


3.Progress Report:

Recently, eating goat cheese during pregnancy was identified as one of the risk factors for acquisition of Toxoplasma gondii parasites by pregnant women. Little information is available concerning the presence of viable Toxoplasma in goat milk. In this investigation, four lactating goats were orally inoculated with oocysts of a Toxoplasma strain isolated from goat meat obtained from a local grocery store. Two of the goats fed a high dose (100,000 oocysts) died of toxoplasmosis but viable Toxoplasma was found in their milk post-mortem. Therefore, the inoculate dose was lowered to 100 oocysts for the other two milking goats. Fresh milk from these goats was bioassayed in mice to detect viable Toxoplasma, and milk samples also were frozen for the detection of Toxoplasma DNA. Viable Toxoplasma was detected in goat milk for up to 30 days. Experiments are now underway to quantitate Toxoplasma DNA in frozen milk samples. The results will be of interest to public health workers, veterinarians, physicians, and goat farmers.


Last Modified: 10/20/2014
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