Submitted to: Journal of Parasitology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: July 16, 2008
Publication Date: December 30, 2008
Citation: Pas, A., Dubey, J.P. 2008. Seroprevalence of antibodies to Toxoplasma gondii in Gordon's wild cat (Felis silvestris gordoni) in the Middle East. Journal of Parasitology. 94:1169.
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. Scientists at the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center and from United Arab Emirates report fatal toxoplasmosis in sand cats for the first time from this host. The results will be of interest to biologists, parasitologists, and veterinarians.
The Sand cat (Felis margarita) is a small-sized felid occurring in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The Sand cat captive breeding program at the Breeding Centre for Endangered Arabian Wildlife (BCEAW), Sharjah, UAE, has until recently been severely compromised by very high newborn mortality rates. Two different pairs of Sand cats gave birth respectively to one and two litters (with a total of 8 kittens) between 1999 and 2006.
Seven out of 8 kittens died between the 3rd and 21st wk of life. Toxoplasmosis was confirmed as the cause of death in two litters. Adult cats had high antibody titers to Toxoplasma gondii before pregnancy, suggesting that maternal immunity did not protect the kittens against infection with T.gondii and that maternal immunity might not have prevented transplacental transmission of the parasite. This observation contrasts with what is seen in domestic cats To our knowledge this is the first report on confirmed fatal toxoplasmosis and prevelance of T. gondii in Sand cats.