Location: Animal Parasitic Diseases
Project Number: 8042-32000-090-00
Start Date: Dec 16, 2010
End Date: Dec 15, 2015
Toxoplasma gondii infects 11-20% of the U.S. population, causing birth defects in exposed pregnant women, devastating disease in immunocompromised individuals, and illness and loss of vision in otherwise healthy adults. Consumption of infected pork may be a significant source of infection for consumers in the U.S. Meat derived from pasture-raised pigs is of particular concern, since prevalence in these pigs may exceed 50%. Reducing the risk of foodborne human infection from meat requires adherence to livestock production practices that prevent exposure of animals to the parasite at the farm level, and the development of new treatments which can be used in pasture-raised pigs to prevent infection. Trichinella spiralis is a serious zoonotic pathogen with an unusually broad host and geographic range. Trichinella species infecting game animals pose a risk to humans consuming these meat products as well as a risk to domestic pigs that feed on their carcasses. Understanding the risk to pigs that have access to infected wildlife is an important component of on-farm certification efforts. In addition, the safety of meat from pasture-raised swine needs to be assessed in light of increasing consumer demand for organically-raised meat products. We will evaluate the impact of different management and production practices (e.g., free range, confinement, organically-raised pigs) on the incidence of Toxoplasma and Trichinella in swine, as it relates to foodborne risk, and assess the effectiveness of on-farm interventions (such as passive immunization therapy as a feed supplement) to prevent enteric Toxoplasma infection in swine, consequent foodborne risk, and potential interaction with Salmonella foodborne infections in swine.