Submitted to: Veterinary Parasitology
Publication Type: Peer reviewed journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/1/2010
Publication Date: 6/1/2011
Citation: Cabezon, O., Hall, A.J., Vincent, C., Padon, M., Bocanegra, G., Dubey, J.P., Almeria, S. 2011. Seroprevalence of Toxoplasma gondii and Neospora caninum in north-eastern Atlantic Harbor seal. Veterinary Parasitology. 179:253-256. 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 study, scientists document prevalence of antibodies T. gondii in harbor and grey seals from Atlantic Ocean. The results will be of interest to biologists, parasitologists, and veterinarians.
Technical Abstract: Antibodies to Toxoplasma gondii and Neospora caninum were determined in serum samples from 47 grey seals (Halichoerus grypus) and 56 harbor seals (Phoca vitulina vitulina) from the Atlantic coasts of United Kingdom and France. Antibodies to T. gondii assayed by the modified agglutination test (MAT) were found in 14 (13.6%; IC95%: 7.0-20.2) of 103 seals tested, with titres of 1:25 in 13 seals and 1:50 in 1 seal. Seroprevalence against T. gondii (MAT 1:25 or higher) was significantly higher in grey seals (23.4%) compared to harbor seals (5.4%). No significant differences were found between seroprevalence against T. gondii and sex, age or geographical locations. Seroprevalence to N. caninum assayed by cELISA was 7.8% (IC95%: 2.6-13.0) and no statistically significant differences were observed between species, age, sex or location. These results show natural exposure of European harbor and grey seals to T. gondii and N. caninum oocysts in the Atlantic Ocean. To our knowledge, this is the first serological survey of T. gondii in European grey and harbor seals and of N. caninum in grey seals worldwide.