Submitted to: Journal of Wildlife Diseases
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/1/2000
Publication Date: N/A
Interpretive Summary: Infection by the single-celled parasite, Toxoplasma gondii is common in livestock and humans. It causes abortion in livestock and loss of vision and mental retardation in congenitally infected children. Humans become infected by ingesting uncooked infected meat or by ingesting food and water contaminated with oocysts (resistant form of Toxoplasma) excreted in the feces of infected cats. Domestic cats normally do not survive in the wild in Alaska, yet Toxoplasma infection in humans in Alaska is approximately 30%. Scientists at the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game found antibodies to T. gondii in 39% of lynx from Alaska. Because lynx can also excrete Toxoplasma oocysts these findings will be of interest to biologists, epidemiologists, parasitologists, and public health workers.
Technical Abstract: Two-hundred fifty-five lynx (Felis lynx) carcasses were collected from trappers in Interior Alaska (USA). Serosanguinous fluids were collected from the chest cavity of each carcass. These fluids were tested for evidence of exposure to Toxoplasma gondii by means of a modified agglutination test using formalin fixed tachyzoites and mercaptoethanol. Thirty-nine of the samples had titers greater than or equal to the threshold (>25). Antibody prevalence differed between areas, and was directly related to age of the host.