Submitted to: Veterinary Parasitology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/27/2001
Publication Date: N/A
Interpretive Summary: Toxoplasma gondii is a single-celled parasite of humans and livestock. It causes mental retardation and loss of vision in congenitally-infected children. Cats, not only domestic but all members of the Felidae are the only hosts that can excrete, in their feces, the environmentally resistant stage (oocyst) of Toxoplasma. Humans and animals can become infected by ingesting food or water contaminated with oocysts from cat feces. Scientists at the Beltsville Agricultural Research Service and University of Sao Paulo, Brazil found antibodies to T. gondii in 472 of 865 (54.6%) of neotropical cats from various zoos in Brazil, indicating a widespread T.gondii infection in zoos. These results will be of interest to parasitologists, biologists, and zoo veterinarians.
Technical Abstract: Seroprevalence of Toxoplasma gondii was determined in 865 captive neotropical felids from 20 states from Brazil, sampled from September 1995 to April 1997. Sera were tested by the modified agglutination test (MAT) using formalin-fixed whole tachyzoites and mercaptoethanol. Antibodies (MAT ò 1:20) to T. gondii were found in 472 of 865 (54.6%) cats: in 45 of 99 (45.9%) jaguarundis (Herpailurus yagouaroundi), in 97 of 168 (57.7%) ocelots (Leopardus pardalis), in 68 of 131 (51.9%) oncillas (Leopardus tigrinus), in 35 of 63 (55.5%) margays (Leopardus wiedii), in 1 of 8 (12.5%) pampas cat (Oncifelis colocolo), in 9 of 12 (75.0%) Geoffroy's cat (Oncifelis geoffroyi), in 134 of 212 (63.2%) jaguars (Panthera onca), and in 83 of 172 (48.2%) pumas (Puma concolor). Antibody titers were: 1:20 in 27 felids, 1:25 in 142 felids, 1:40 in 6 felids, 1:50 in 292 felids, and ò1:500 in 5 felids. The high seroprevalence of T. gondii antibodies found in the present study suggest a widespread exposure of neotropical cats to T. gondii in zoos in Brazil. The results warrant an investigation on the mode of exposure and oocyst shedding by neotropical cats.