Submitted to: Veterinary Parasitology
Publication Type: Peer reviewed journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/1/2009
Publication Date: 10/1/2009
Citation: Millan, J., Cabezon, O., Pabon, M., Dubey, J.P., Almeria, S. 2009. Seroprevalence of Toxoplasma gondii and Neospora caninum in feral cats (Felis silvestris catus) in Majorca, Balearic Islands, Spain. Veterinary Parasitology. 165:323-326. 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. In the present paper, scientists at the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center and from an University in Barcelona, report the prevalence of Toxoplasma from wild cats from Majorca, Balearic Islands, Spain. The results will be of interest to biologists, parasitologists, and veterinarians.
Technical Abstract: Felids are important in the epidemiology of Toxoplasma gondii infection because they are the only hosts that can excrete environmentally-resistant oocysts. Antibodies to T. gondii and Neospora caninum were determined in serum samples from 59 feral cats (Felis silvestris catus) captured in baited traps during authorized predator control campaigns in Majorca, Balearic Islands, Spain. Antibodies to T. gondii assayed by the modified agglutination test (MAT) were found in 50 (84.7%) of 59 cats with MAT titers of 1:25 in 1 cat, 1:200 in 4 cats, 1:500 in 7 cats, 1:1000 in 9 cats, and =1:2000 in 29 cats. Seroprevalence (MAT, 1:25 or more) was significantly higher in adults (94.6%) than in juveniles (<6 month old; 40.0%). Seroprevalence to N. caninum, assayed by cELISA (VMRD) and confirmed by an indirect fluorescent antibody test, was low (6.8%, 4 of 59). The prevalence of T. gondii observed in wild cats in Majorca is one of the highest reported worldwide in this species and the highest observed in Europe to date. The results suggest that feral cats are very exposed to T. gondii in Majorca with important implications for public health on the island since the seropositive cats are likely to have already shed T. gondii oocysts in the environment.