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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: INTEGRATED APPROACH TO THE DETECTION AND CONTROL OF FOODBORNE PARASITES AND THE IMPACT ON FOOD SAFETY

Location: Animal Parasitic Diseases

Title: Seroprevalence of Toxoplasma gondii infection in marine mammals in Mexico

Authors
item Alvarado-Esquivel, C.
item Sanchez-Okrucky, R.
item Dubey, Jitender

Submitted to: Veterinary Parasitology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: September 1, 2011
Publication Date: February 1, 2012
Citation: Alvarado-Esquivel, C., Sanchez-Okrucky, R., Dubey, J.P. 2012. Seroprevalence of Toxoplasma gondii infection in marine mammals in Mexico. Veterinary Parasitology. 184:321-324.

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. In the present study, authors report prevalence of Toxoplasma in marine mammals in Mexico. The results will be of interest to biologists, parasitologists, and public health workers.

Technical Abstract: Toxoplasma gondii infection in marine mammals is important because they are considered as a sentinel for contamination of seas with T. gondii oocysts, and toxoplasmosis causes mortality in these animals, particularly sea otters. Seroprevalence of T. gondii infection was determined in 75 captive marine mammals from four facilities in south and central geographical regions in Mexico using the modified agglutination test (MAT). Antibodies (MAT, 1:25 or higher) to T. gondii were found in 55 (87.3%) of 63 bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus truncatus) and three of three Tursiops truncatus gilli, two of four California sea lions (Zalophus californianus), but not in three West Indian manatees (Trichechus manatus), and two Patagonian sea lions (Otaria flavescents). Seropositive marine mammals were found in all four facilities sampled. All marine mammals were apparently healthy and there has not been any case of clinical toxoplasmosis in the facilities sampled for at least the last 15 years. This is the first report of T. gondii infection in marine mammals in Mexico.

Last Modified: 10/25/2014