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Title: First isolate of Toxoplasma gondii from arctic fox (Vulpes lagopus) from Svalbard

item Dubey, Jitender
item SU, C

Submitted to: Veterinary Parasitology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/3/2007
Publication Date: 2/1/2008
Citation: Prestrud, K.W., Dubey, J.P., Asbakk, K., Fugler, E., Su, C. 2008. First isolate of Toxoplasma gondii from arctic fox (Vulpes lagopus) from Svalbard. Veterinary Parasitology. 151:110-114.

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 an University in Norway report characteristics of the first isolate of Toxoplasma from a fox in Arctic. The results will be of interest to biologists, parasitologists, and veterinarians.

Technical Abstract: Cats are considered essential for the maintenance of Toxoplasma gondii in nature. However, T. gondii infection has been reported in arctic fox (Vulpes lagopus) from the Svalbard high arctic archipelago where felids are virtually absent. To identify the potential source of T. gondii, we attempted to isolate and genetically characterize the parasite from arctic foxes in Svalbard. Eleven foxes were trapped live in Grumant (78º11¢ N, 15º 09¢ E), Svalbard, in September 2005 and 2006. One of the foxes was found to be seropositive to T. gondii by the modified agglutination test (MAT). The fox was euthanized and its heart and brain were bioassayed in mice for the isolation of T. gondii. All 10 mice inoculated with brain tissue and one of the five inoculated with heart developed MAT antibodies, and tissue cysts were found in the brains of seropositive mice. Two cats fed tissues from infected mice shed T. gondii oocysts. Genotyping using 10 PCR-RFLP markers and DNA sequencing of gene loci BSR4, GRA6, UPRT1 and UPRT2 determined the isolate to be Type II strain, the predominant T. gondii lineage in the world.