Submitted to: Journal of Infectious Diseases
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: February 3, 1997
Publication Date: N/A
Interpretive Summary: Infections by the protozoan (single celled) parasite, Toxoplasma gondii are widespread in livestock and humans. It causes mental retardation and loss of vision in congenitally infected children and abortion in livestock. Humans become infected by ingesting food or water contaminated with resistant Toxoplasma (oocyst) shed in feces of infected cats or by eating meat of infected animals. Among the food animals, sheep, goats, and pigs are more commonly infected with T. gondii than cattle. Scientists at the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center and the Catholic University, Korea report the first outbreaks of toxoplasmosis in humans linked to eating undercooked pork. The symptoms and treatment described will be of interest to public health workers, veterinary and medical clinicians, and parasitologists in general.
Two outbreaks of acute toxoplasmosis involving eight adult patients in Korea were linked to eating uncooked pork. In the first outbreak, three patients developed unilateral chorioretinitis within 3 months of eating a meal consisting of raw spleen and liver of a wild pig. In the second outbreak, five of 11 soldiers who ate a meal consisting of raw liver of a domestic pig developed lymphadenopathy. All eight patients had high levels of IgG Toxoplasma gondii antibodies (less than or eqaul to 1:1,024) in the Sabin-Feldman dye test, modified agglutination test incorporating mercaptoethanol, and the latex agglutination test. Toxoplasma gondii IgM antibodies persisted in these patients for several months. Most patients had a favorable response to anti-T. gondii chemotherapy with pyrimethamine and sulfanomides.