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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: DEVELOPMENT OF AN INTEGRATED RISK MODEL FOR FOODBORNE ZOONOTIC PARASITES IN SWINE Title: Seroepidemiology of Toxoplasma Gondii in Zoo Animals in Selected Zoos in Midwestern United States

Authors
item DE Camps, Silvia - OHIO STATE U COLUMBUS
item Dubey, Jitender
item Saville, W J - OHIO STATE U COLUMBUS

Submitted to: Journal of Parasitology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: December 1, 2007
Publication Date: June 30, 2008
Citation: De Camps, S., Dubey, J.P., Saville, W.A. 2008. Seroepidemiology of toxoplasma gondii in zoo animals in selected zoos in midwestern United States. Journal of Parasitology. 94:648-653.

Interpretive Summary: Toxoplasma gondii is a single-celled parasite of all warm-blooded hosts worldwide. It causes mental retardation and loss of vision in children, and abortion in livestock. Cats are the main reservoir of T. gondii because they are the only hosts that can excrete the resistant stage (oocyst) of the parasite in the feces. Humans become infected by eating undercooked meat from infected animals and food and water contaminated with oocysts. Toxoplasmosis causes mortality in many species of animals in the zoos, especially wallabies. Scientists at the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center and from the Ohio State University report prevalence of T,. gondii in animals from 8 zoos. The results will be of interest to biologists, parasitologists, and veterinarians

Technical Abstract: Toxoplasma gondii infections in zoo animals are of interest because many captive animals die of clinical toxoplasmosis and because of the potential risk of exposure of children and elderly to T. gondii oocysts excreted by cats in the zoos. Seroprevalence of T. gondii antibodies in wild zoo felids, highly susceptible zoo species, and feral cats from 8 zoos of the midwestern United States was determined by using the modified agglutination test (MAT). A titer of 1:25 was considered indicative of T. gondii exposure. Among wild felids, antibodies to T. gondii were found in 6 (27.3%) of 22 cheetahs (Acynonyx jubatus jubatus), 2 of 4 lynx (Caracal caracal), 1 of 7 clouded leopard (Neofelis nebulosa), 1 of 5 Pallas cats (Otocolobus manul), 12 (54.5%) of 22 African lions (Panthera leo), 1 of 1 jaguar (Panthera onca), 1 of 1 Amur leopard (Panthera pardus orientalis), 1of 1 Persian leopard (Panthera pardus saxicolor), 5 (27.8%) of 18 Amur tigers (Panthera tigris altaica), 1 of 4 Fishing cat (Prionailurus viverrinus), 3 of 6 pumas (Puma concolor), 2 of 2 Texas pumas (Puma concolor stanleyana), and 5 of 14 (35.7%) snow leopards (Uncia uncia). Antibodies were found in 10 of 34 feral domestic cats (Felis domesticus) trapped in 3 zoos. Toxoplasma gondii oocysts were not found in any of the 78 fecal samples from wild and domestic cats. Among the macropods, antibodies were detected in 1 of 3 Dama wallaby (Macropus eugenii), 1 of 1 western grey kangaroo (Macropus fuliginosus melanops), 1 of 2 wallaroo (Macropus robustus), 6 of 8 Bennett’s wallabies (Macropus rufogriseus), 21 (61.8%) of 34 red kangaroos (Macropus rufus), and 1 of 1 dusky pademelon (Thylogale brunii). Among prosimians, antibodies were detected in 1 of 3 blue-eyed black lemur (Eulemur macaco flavifrons), 1 of 21 ring-tailed lemur (Lemur catta), 2 of 9 red-ruffed lemurs (Varecia variegata rubra), and 2 of 4 black and white ruffed lemurs (Varecia variegata variegate). Among the avian species tested, 2 of 3 bald eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) were seropositive. Among 7 possible risk factors, sex, freezing meat temperature (above -13 C versus below -13 C), washing vegetables thoroughly, frequency of feral cat sightings on zoo grounds (occasionally versus frequently), frequency of feral cat control programs, capability of feral cats to enter hay/grain barn, and type of animal exhibit , exhibiting animals in open enclosures was the only factor identified as a significant risk (OR 3.22, P = 0.00).

Last Modified: 10/1/2014
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