Submitted to: Journal of Wildlife Diseases
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: February 14, 1995
Publication Date: N/A
Interpretive Summary: Infection by the parasite Toxoplasma gondii is widespread in livestock and human beings. It can cause abortion in livestock and loss of vision and mental retardation in children whose mothers become infected with T. gondii during pregnancy. Humans become infected by ingesting food or water contaminated with the resistant stage of T. gondii (oocyst) excreted in feces of infected cats or by the ingestion of tissue cysts from meat of infected animal tissues. Cats including wild Felidae are the main reservoirs of infection for T. gondii because they are the only hosts that can excrete oocysts. Adult cats normally do not suffer from ill effects of toxoplasmosis. Scientists at the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center and the University of Georgia report for the first time fatal toxoplasmosis in an adult bobcat. This report will be useful for wildlife disease specialists and zoo veterinarians.
A bobcat estimated to be 6 months old was presented to the Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study exhibiting head pressing, stupor, intermittent seizures, and vocalization. Gross and histopathologic examination revealed a severe focally extensive protozoal meningoencephalitis. Toxoplasma gondii was confirmed as the etiologic agent by an avidin-biotin immunohistochemical test. This is the first report of clinical toxoplasmosis in a free-ranging bobcat.