Submitted to: Parasitology International
Publication Type: Peer reviewed journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/17/2010
Publication Date: 9/1/2010
Citation: Garcia-Bocanegra, I., Simon-Grife, M., Dubey, J.P., Casal, J., Cabezon, O., Martin, G., Perea, A., Almeria, S. 2010. Seroprevalence and risk factors associated to Toxoplasma gondii in domestic pigs from Spain. Parasitology International. 59:421-426. 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. Serologic diagnosis of toxoplasmosis in young pigs is uncertain because of the presence of antibodies transferred from the mother. In the present study, scientists document prevalence of antibodies T. gondii in pigs in Spain. The results will be of interest to biologists, parasitologists, and veterinarians.
Technical Abstract: Serum samples from 2970 (1400 sows, 1570 fattening) pigs, from 100 farms from the 10 main swine production regions in Spain were tested for antibodies against T. gondii by the modified agglutination test (MAT). Antibodies to T. gondii (MAT 1:25 or higher) were detected in 16.6% of 492 pigs (,9.7% fatteneing, 24.2% sows). The herd prevalence was 85.0% (95% CI: 78-92), ranging from 2.9% to 92.8% (median: 19.4%). Statistically significant differences were observed among sampling regions with seroprevalence significantly higher in pigs from Valencia Community (27.3%), Extremadura (23.3%) and Catalonia (21.2%). Generalized estimating equations model indicated that the risk factors associated to T. gondii seroprevalence were: age, sows compared to fattening pigs (OR= 2.9; 95% CI=1.83 – 4.53), lack of rodent control (OR= 1.9; 95% CI= 1.04 – 3.60) and presence of cats (OR= 1.6; 95% CI= 1.12 - 2.34). The seroprevalence observed in the present study indicates a widespread, although variable, exposure to T. gondii among domestic pigs in Spain, which might have important implications in Public Health. Management measures including control of rodents and cats in the farms could help to reduce the observed prevalence levels in Spain.