Submitted to: Journal of Parasitology
Publication Type: Peer reviewed journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/1/2005
Publication Date: 6/6/2006
Citation: Eymann, J., Herbert, C.A., Cooper, D.W., Dubey, J.P. 2006. Serologic survey for toxoplasma gondii and neospora caninum in the common brushtail possom (trichosurus vulpecula) from urban Sydney, Australia. Journal of Parasitology. 92:267-272. Interpretive Summary: Toxoplasma gondii is a single-celled parasite of all warm-blooded hosts worldwide. It causes mental retardation and loss of vision in children, and abortion in livestock. Cats are the main reservoir of T. gondii because they are the only hosts that can excrete the resistant stage (oocyst) of the parasite in the feces. Humans become infected by eating undercooked meat from infected animals and food and water contaminated with oocysts. Scientists at the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center and Univ. of Sydney, Australia report first survey of T. gondii infection in possums in Australia. The results will be of interest to biologists, parasitologists, and veterinarians
Technical Abstract: The common brushtail possum (Trichosurus vulpecula) has well adapted to increasing urbanization resulting in greater interaction with humans and their domestic pets. Wildlife species in urban areas face a higher risk of exposure to zoonotic pathogens and may be affected by parasites hosted by cats (Toxoplasma gondii) or dogs (Neospora caninum), yet it is unknown to what extent urban T. vulpecula are exposed to these parasites. Antibodies to T. gondii and N. caninum were assayed in sera of 142 adult possums from the city of Sydney, Australia. Using the modified agglutination test antibodies to T. gondii were found in 9 (6.3%) of the 142 animals in titers of 1:25 (4), 1:50 (1), 1:100 (1), 1:800 (1), 1:3,200 (1), 1: 6,400 (1), and 1:12,800 (1). Of some T. vulpecula multiple sera samples within a 2-yr frame could be collected, but seropositive animals were in general not recaptured after initial seroconversion. One possum had a high T. gondii titer on 2 consecutive bleedings, 14 mo apart, and seropositive possums appeared normal when captured. Sex seemed not to have an affect on antibody prevalence, but age and location may play a role. Antibodies to N. caninum were not detected in 1:25 dilution of sera in the N. caninum agglutination test, indicating that T. vulpecula may not have been exposed to this parasite. This is the first serological survey for T. gondii and N. caninum infections in urban T. vulpecula.