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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: Prevalence of antibodies to Leishmania infantum and Toxoplasma gondii in horses from the north of Portugal

Authors
item Lopes, Ana -
item Sousa, Susana -
item Dubey, Jitender
item Ribeiro, Ana -
item Silvestre, Ricardo -
item Cotovio, Mario -
item Schallig, Henk -
item Cardosa, Luis -
item Cordeiro-Da-Silva, Anabela -

Submitted to: Parasites & Vectors
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: June 13, 2013
Publication Date: June 17, 2013
Citation: Lopes, A., Sousa, S., Dubey, J.P., Ribeiro, A., Silvestre, R., Cotovio, M., Schallig, H., Cardosa, L., Cordeiro-Da-Silva, A. 2013. Prevalence of antibodies to Leishmania infantum and Toxoplasma gondii in horses from the north of Portugal. Parasites & Vectors. 6:178.

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 under cooked meat from infected animals and food and water contaminated with oocysts. Leishmania sp. Is another parasite of zoonotic importance. In the present study,prevalences of antibodies to these agents were assessed in 173 horses from the north of Portugal. Antibodies to L. infantum were detected by the direct agglutination test (DAT); seven (4.0%) horses were seropositive. Antibodies to T. gondii were assayed by the modified agglutination test (MAT); 23 horses were seropositive. The presence of antibodies to Toxoplasma gondii in nearly 15% of surveyed horses raises significant food safety concerns given the evidence that horse meat, by both overt and covert means, enters the human food supply. These findings are of interest to veterinarians and parasitologisyts.

Technical Abstract: Background Leishmania infantum and Toxoplasma gondii are protozoa with zoonotic and economic importance. Prevalences of antibodies to these agents were assessed in 173 horses from the north of Portugal. Findings Antibodies to L. infantum were detected by the direct agglutination test (DAT); seven (4.0%) horses were seropositive with DAT titres of 200 (n = 5), 800 (n = 1) and >= 1600 (n = 1). Antibodies to T. gondii were assayed by the modified agglutination test (MAT); 23 horses were seropositive with MAT titres of 20 (n = 13), 40 (n = 5), 80 (n = 3) and >= 160 (n = 2). No statistical differences were found among equine categories of gender (female, male and gelding), age (1.5'6, 7'12 and 13'30 years), type of housing (indoors and mixed/outdoors), ability (recreation, farming and sports) and clinical status (apparently healthy and sick) for both agents. Conclusions Horses are exposed to and may be infected with L. infantum and T. gondii in the north of Portugal.

Last Modified: 9/22/2014