Submitted to: Journal of Parasitology
Publication Type: Peer reviewed journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/3/2007
Publication Date: 8/30/2008
Citation: Dubey, J.P., Fair, P.A., Sundar, N., Velmurugan, G., Kwok, O.C., Mcfee, W.E., Majumdar, D., Su, C. 2008. Isolation of toxoplasma gondii from bottlenose dolphins (tursiops truncatus). Journal of Parasitology. 94:821-823. 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 NOOA report characteristics of Toxoplasma isolates from stranded dolphins. The results will be of interest to biologists, parasitologists, and veterinarians
Technical Abstract: Toxoplasma gondii infection in marine mammals is intriguing and indicative of contamination of the ocean environment and coastal waters with oocysts. In previous serological surveys > 90% of bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) from the coasts of Florida, South Carolina, and California had antibodies to T. gondii by the modified agglutination test (MAT). In the present study attempts were made to isolate T. gondii from dead T. truncatus. During 2005, 2006, and 2007, serum or blood clot, and tissues (brain, heart, skeletal muscle) of 52 T. truncatus stranded on the coasts of South Carolina were tested for T. gondii. Antibodies to T. gondii (MAT 1:25 or higher) were found in 26 (53%) of 49 dolphins; serum was not available from 3 animals. Tissues (heart, muscle, and sometimes brain) of 32 dolphins (26 seropositive, 3 seronegative, and 3 without accompanying sera) were bioassayed for T. gondii in mice, cats or both. Tissues of the recipient mice were examined for T. gondii stages. Feces of recipient cats were examined for shedding of T. gondii oocysts but none excreted oocysts. Toxoplasma gondii was isolated from hearts of the 3 dolphins by bioassay in mice. Genotyping of these 3 T. gondii isolates using 10 PCR-RFLP markers (SAG1, SAG2, SAG3, BTUB, GRA6, c22-8, c29-2, L358, PK1, and Apico) revealed 2 genotypes. Two of the 3 isolates have type II alleles at all loci and belong to the clonal Type II lineage. One isolate has an unique genotype. This is the first report of isolation of viable T. gondii from T. truncatus.