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Title: Toxoplasma gondii: epidemiology, feline clinical aspects, and prevention

item ELMORE, STAVEY - Colorado State University
item JONES, JEFFREY - Centers For Disease Control And Prevention (CDC) - United States
item CONRAD, PATRICIA - University Of California
item PATTON, SHARON - University Of Tennessee
item LINDSAY, DAVID - Virginia Polytechnic Institution & State University
item Dubey, Jitender

Submitted to: Trends in Parasitology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/20/2009
Publication Date: 4/10/2010
Citation: Elmore, S.A., Jones, J.L., Conrad, P.A., Patton, S., Lindsay, D.S., Dubey, J.P. 2010. Toxoplasma gondii: epidemiology, feline clinical aspects, and prevention. Trends in Parasitology. 26:190-196.

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 ingesting undercooked meat from infected animals and food and water contaminated with oocysts. In the present paper, scientists at the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center and several other institutions in the US review the role of the cat in the life cycle of Toxoplasma and provide recommendations for prevention and control. The results will be of interest to biologists, parasitologists, and veterinarians.

Technical Abstract: Toxoplasma gondii is a parasite of birds and mammals. Cats are the only definitive host and thus the only source of infective oocysts, but other mammals and birds can develop tissue cysts. While feline infections are typically asymptomatic, infection during human pregnancy can cause severe disease in the fetus. Cat owners can reduce their pets’ exposure risk by keeping all cats indoors and not feeding them raw meat. Humans usually become infected through ingestion of oocyst-contaminated soil and water, tissue cysts in undercooked meat, or congenitally. Due to their fastidious nature, the passing of non-infective oocysts, and the short duration of oocyst shedding, direct contact with cats is not thought to be a risk for human infection.