Submitted to: Journal of Parasitology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: January 5, 2000
Publication Date: N/A
Interpretive Summary: Toxoplasmosis is a single-celled parasite infection. It causes abortion in livestock and loss of vision in congenitally infected children. Little is known of toxoplasmosis in sea mammals. Scientists at the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center and Virginia Tech have isolated Toxoplasma gondii from tissues of 16 sea otters (Enhydra lutris nereis). This is the first definitive demonstration of T. gondii in sea mammals. These results will be of interest to biologists, pathologists, public health workers and parasitologists.
Toxoplasma gondii was isolated from brain or heart tissue from 16 southern sea otters (Enhdyra lutris neresis) in cell cultures. These strains were used to infect mice which developed antibodies to T. gondii as detected in the modified direct agglutination test and had T. gondii tissue cysts in their brains at necropsy. Mouse brains containing tissue cysts from 4 of the strains were fed to 4 cats and 2 of the cats excreted T. gondii oocyst in their feces. These oocysts were infectious for mice. Molecular analyses of 13 strains indicated that they were all type 11 strains but that they were genetically distinct from one another.