Submitted to: Research in Veterinary Science
Publication Type: Peer reviewed journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/20/2009
Publication Date: 6/20/2010
Citation: Garcia, I., Dubey, J.P., Simon-Grife, M., Cabezon, O., Allepuz, A. 2010. Seroprevalence and risk factors associated with Toxoplasma gondii infection in pig from 23 farms from Catalonia, North-eastern Spain. Research in Veterinary Science. 89(1):85-87. 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 from a University in Barcelona, report the prevalence of Toxoplasma from pigs from Spain for the first time. The results will be of interest to biologists, parasitologists, and veterinarians.
Technical Abstract: A cross-sectional study was performed to estimate the seroprevalence and associated risk factors for Toxoplasma gondii infection in pigs in Catalonia, North-eastern Spain. Blood samples from 1202 pigs including sows, and pigs of three, seven, 11, 15 and 20 weeks of age were collected from 23 farms. The association between the seroprevalence against T. gondii and different variables obtained from the questionnaire filled by farmers were analyzed by linear regression analysis. Differences among the seropositivity and age classes and among number of parities in sows were assessed by means of a generalized linear mixed model. Serum samples were tested for antibodies against T. gondii using the modified agglutination test. Overall, the prevalence of antibodies against T. gondii was 19.0% (95% CI: 16.8-21.2), and the within-farm prevalence ranged between 1.6% and 35.3%. The risk factors significantly associated with T. gondii seroprevalence were the presence of cats, percentage of mortality at weaning and the presence of outdoor facilities in the farms. Statistically significant differences were found in seroprevalence and age of pigs. Pigs of 11 and 15 weeks of age generally had statistically significant higher seroprevalence than pigs of other age groups. The seroprevalence observed in the present study indicates widespread exposure to T. gondii among domestic pigs in Catalonia, which might have important implications in public health.