Submitted to: Veterinary Parasitology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/1/2008
Publication Date: 5/1/2008
Citation: Gamarra, J.A., Cabezon, O., Pabon, M., Arnal, M.C., Luco, D.F., Dubey, J.P., Gortazar, C., Almeria, S. 2008. Prevalence of antibodies against Toxoplasma gondii in roe deer from Spain. Veterinary Parasitology. 153:152-156.
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 Barcolona Unversity in Spain report high prevalence of T gondii antibodies in roe deer from Spain. The results will be of interest to biologists, parasitologists, and veterinarians because humans can acquire toxoplasmosis by eating uncooked venison.
Technical Abstract: Roe deer (Capreolus capreolus) is an important game animal in Spain. Sera from 278 roe deer sera from eight areas in mainland Spain were assayed for antibodies to T. gondii by modified agglutination test (MAT). Titers of 1:25 or higher were found in 109 (39.2%) of 278 deer. No significant differences in antibody prevalence were found between sex or age categories. In contrast, significant differences in seroprevalence between locations were evident. Roe deer from the Northern coastal habitats (high humidity and roe deer density) had the highest prevalence, compared with low prevalence in Central Spain (arid areas and low roe deer density). There was a positive correlation between antibody prevalence and mean annual rainfall (rs= 0.85, n=8, P<0.01). These findings have environmental and/or public health implications because venison can be an important meat source of T. gondii infections for humans and feral cats.