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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Experimental Toxoplasma Gondii Infection Leading to Fatal Enteritis in Reindeer (Rangifer Tarandus)

Authors
item Oksanen, A - NATL VET INST, SWEDEN
item Gustafsson, K - NATL VET INST, SWEDEN
item Lunden, A - NATL VET INST, SWEDEN
item DUBEY, JITENDER
item Thulliez, P - INST PUERICULTURE, FRANCE
item Uggla, A - NATL VET INST, SWEDEN

Submitted to: Journal of Parasitology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: May 1, 1996
Publication Date: N/A

Interpretive Summary: Infection by the protozoan (single-celled) parasite Toxoplasma gondii is widespread in livestock and human beings worldwide, including the U.S. Humans become infected with T. gondii mainly by eating meat infected with tissue cysts or by ingestion of food or water contaminated with cat feces containing resistant oocysts. Meat (both domestic and wild animals) infected with Toxoplasma parasites is an important source of infection for humans in the U.S. Approximately 300,000 reindeer are killed for human food annually in Scandinavia and the consumption of infected reindeer meat is considered to be a source of toxoplasmosis in Alaska and many Canadian provinces. However, little is known of T. gondii infection in reindeer. Scientists at the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center and National Veterinary Institute in Finland found that reindeer were highly susceptible to toxoplasmosis. Two reindeer fed low numbers of T. gondii oocysts became ill and one died of acute toxoplasmosis. The result indicate that meat of all wild animals must be cooked well before human consumption.

Technical Abstract: Two 50-60 kg yearling reindeer (Rangifer tarandus) were inoculated intraruminally with 50,000 (reindeer 1) or 50,000 (reindeer 2) oocysts of the ME-49 strain of Toxoplasma gondii. Both reindeer became ill day four post inoculation (p.i.). Reindeer 2 died because of acute enteritis day nine p.i. Histologically, extensive necrosis and destruction of the intestinal mucosa were seen. Numerous T. gondii organisms were demonstrated immunohistochemically. Reindeer 1 was treated with sulphonamides for two days from day nine; recovered by day 16 p.i. and remained clinically normal until the last day of observation (day 707 p.i.). It developed high antibody titers to T. gondii between days seven and 14 p.i.

Last Modified: 7/25/2014