Submitted to: Journal of Parasitology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/21/2005
Publication Date: 6/6/2006
Citation: Dubey, J.P., Hodgin, E.C., Hamir, A.N. 2006. Acute fatal toxoplasmosis in squirrels (sciurus carolensis) with bradyzoites in visceral tissues. Journal of Parasitology. 92:658-659.
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 USDA Agricultural Research Service and Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge report fatal toxoplasmosis in pet quirrels. The results will be of interest to biologists, parasitologists, and veterinarians.
Technical Abstract: Acute toxoplasmosis was diagnosed in 3 gray squirrels (Sciurus carolensis) from Louisiana and Pennsylvania. The predominant lesion was multifocal necrosis in several organs, especially of the lymph nodes. Numerous Toxoplasma gondii tachyzoites were seen in lesions and the diagnosis was confirmed immunohistochemically by reaction with polyclonal T. gondii-specific antibodies. Tissue cysts were seen in several organs, including lung alveoli. The presence of tissue cysts in alveoli of pet squirrels maybe of public health concern if tissue cysts excreted in nasal secretions were swallowed by children.