Submitted to: Journal of Wildlife Diseases
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/5/1999
Publication Date: N/A
Interpretive Summary: Infections by the single-celled parasite Toxoplasma gondii are widely prevalent in livestock and humans. It causes abortion in livestock and mental retardation and loss of vision in congenitally infected children. Infection in wild omnivores is a good indication of the parasite in the environment because they ingest both meat infected with T. gondii and food and water contaminated with oocysts from feces of infected cats. Scientist at the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center and the University of Illinois found T. gondii antibodies in 49% of 379 raccoons from Illinois. These results indicate widespread contamination of the environment by T. gondii and the results will be of interest to parasitologists and wildlife biologists.
Technical Abstract: Blood was collected from selected wildlife species in specific areas of Alaska during 1976-1996. A modified agglutination test was used to test sera for evidence of exposure to Toxoplasma gondii. Serum antibody prevalence was 43% (62 positive of 143 tested) for black bears (Ursus americanus), 9% (11/125) for wolves (Canis lupus), 7% (22/319) for Dall sheep (Ovis dalli), 6% (14/241) for caribou (Rangifer tarandus), 1% (3/240 for moose (Alces alces) and 1% (2/241) for bison (bison bison). A predictive model was developed to determine the effect of sex, age, location and year of collection on antibody prevalence for each species. Prevalence was higher in older age black bears, caribou and wolves. For black bears, prevalence was highest in the southeast region of the state. For caribou, prevalence was lowest on the Alaska Peninsula.