Submitted to: Journal of Parasitology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/1/2007
Publication Date: 12/5/2007
Citation: Hwang, Y.T., Pitt, J.A., Quirk, T.W., Dubey, J.P. 2007. Seroprevalence of Toxoplasma gondii in mesocarnivore of the Canadian prairies. Journal of Parasitology. 93:1370-1373.
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.Toxoplasmosis causes mortality in many species of animals in the zoos, especially primates. Scientists at the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center and the University of Western Ontario, Canada report high prevalence of Toxoplasma antibodies from skunks and raccoons from Canada. The results will be of interest to biologists, parasitologists, and veterinarians.
Technical Abstract: The protozoon Toxoplasma gondii has a worldwide distribution and affects many species of warm-blooded animals. In the Canadian prairies, mesocarnivores such as striped skunks (Mephitis mephitis) and raccoons (Procyon lotor) have experienced an increase in density and distribution and are in close contact with human dwellings. However, there has been no systematic study on the seroprevalence of T. gondii in these mesocarnivore populations. The objectives of the current project were to determine the serum antibody prevalence of T. gondii in the Canadian prairie and the relationship between antibody prevalence and species, sex, age, location, and yr of collection. Antibodies to T. gondii were found in 5 of 24 (20.8%) skunks from Saskatchewan trapped in 1999 and 5 of 40 (12.5%) skunks in 2000. Seroprevalences for T. gondii in raccoons and skunks trapped in Manitoba were: 2 of 10 (20%) raccoons trapped in 2002, 7 of 44 (15.9%) raccoons trapped in 2003, and 16 of 37 (43.2%) raccoons trapped in 2004. and in 13 of 99 (13.1%) skunks trapped in 2003, 29 of 131 (22.1%) skunks trapped in 2004, 53 of 165 (32.1%) skunks trapped in 2005, and 30 of 51 (58.8%) skunks trapped in 2006. Age, location, and the yr, but not the host species, were important variables in the determining the seroprevalence of T. gondii in skunks and raccoons. Results indicate that T. gondii is endemic in the skunk and raccoon populations in the Canadian prairies.