Submitted to: Journal of Parasitology
Publication Type: Peer reviewed journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/14/2000
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: Interpretive Summary: Toxoplasma gondii is a single celled parasite of livestock and humans. It causes abortion in livestock and loss of vision and mental retardation in congenitally infected children. Infection rates in Alaska and cold climates are similar to those in people in Mainland USA. Scientists at the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center and University of Saskatchewan, Canada, found antibodies to T. gondii in 37% of 117 Caribou slaughtered for food in Canada. Therefore, caribou meat should not be consumed uncooked by people. The results will be of interest to public health workers, parasitologists and biologists.
Technical Abstract: Prevalence of antibodies to Toxoplasma gondii was determined in 147 barrenground caribou (Rangifer tarandus groenlandicus) from 5 herds in the Northwest Territories and Nunavut, northern Canada, by the modified agglutination test MAT) because caribou meat is consumed by humans in these areas. In the mainland herds (Bluenose, Bathurst, and Beverly), antibodies were found in 43 (37% of 117 caribou, and MAT titers were 1:25 in 10, 1:50 in 24, and 1:500 in 9. In the island herds, only 1 (4.3%) of 23 animals sampled from the North Baffin Island herd was positive (titer = 1:25) and no antibodies were detected in 7 caribou from the Dolphin and Union herd. The high prevalence of antibodies to T. gondii in the mainland caribou herds indicates that caribou meat is likely to contain viable T. gondii and should not be consumed uncooked by humans.