Submitted to: Journal of Parasitology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: May 25, 2001
Publication Date: N/A
Interpretive Summary: Infection by the single-celled parasite, Toxoplasma gondii is common in animals and humans. It causes abortion in livestock and mental retardation in congenitally-infected children. Humans become infected by ingesting undercooked, infected meat or by ingesting food and water contaminated with oocysts shed in feces of infected cats. Scientists at the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center and the Washington State Fish and Wildlife have discovered antibodies to Toxoplasma in 29 of 380 (7.6%) of harbor seals in Washington State. The results indicate contamination of sea water with oocysts of Toxoplasma; this information will be of interest to wildlife biologists, parasitologists and public health workers.
As part of the Puget Sound Ambient Monitoring Program of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, serum samples from 380 harbor seals (Phoca vitulina) were tested for antibodies to Toxoplasma gondii in the modified agglutination test (MAT) incorporating formalin-fixed tachyzotes and mercaptoethanol. Antibodies to T. gondii were found in 29 of 380 (7.6%) seals with titers of 1:25 in 13, 1:50 in 14, and # 1:500 in 2 seals. Results indicate natural exposure of these feral marine mammals to T. gondii oocysts.