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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Beltsville, Maryland (BARC) » Beltsville Agricultural Research Center » Animal Parasitic Diseases Laboratory » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #281253

Title: Toxoplasmosis in Canadian lynx (Lynx canadensis) in Québec, Canada

item Dubey, Jitender
item SIMON, AUDREY - University Of Montreal
item POULIN, BIGRAS MICHAEL - University Of Montreal
item ROUSSEAU, ALAIN - Institut National De La Recherche Scientifique (INRS)
item OGDEN, NICHOLAS - Public Health Agency Of Canada

Submitted to: Journal of Wildlife Diseases
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/14/2012
Publication Date: 1/1/2013
Citation: Dubey, J.P., Simon, A., Poulin, B., Rousseau, A.N., Ogden, N.H. 2013. Toxoplasmosis in Canadian lynx (Lynx canadensis) in Québec, Canada. Journal of Wildlife Diseases. 49(1):39-48.

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 under cooked meat from infected animals and food and water contaminated with oocysts. In the present study, authors found antibodies to T. gondii in 14 % of 84 lynx trapped in Boreal, Canada. The results will be of interest to biologists, parasitologists, and public health workers because wild felids can also shed oocysts.

Technical Abstract: Toxoplasma gondii, one of the more common zoonotic parasites in the world, can cause serious illness in humans and other animals worldwide. Felids are the only host that can shed T. gondii oocysts, which are essential to the perpetuation of the parasite cycle. In much of Boreal Canada, the Canadian lynx (Lynx canadensis) is the only felid host that could contribute to environmental contamination with T. gondii oocysts. In this study, we aimed to update earlier findings on T. gondii prevalence in Canadian lynx from western Québec, to assess oocyst shedding, and explore spatio-temporal variability in seroprevalence of T. gondii. Blood and fecal samples were collected from 84 lynx trapped in western Quebec during winter 2009-2010. Sera were tested for antibodies to T. gondii by the modified agglutination test (MAT, cut-off titer 1:50) and feces samples for parasite eggs by fecal flotation. Antibodies to T. gondii were detected in sera of 14% of 84 lynx; feces were negative for oocysts. The seroprevalence increased with age class (Odd ratio = 4.33, 95% Confidence Interval = 1.57-11.99, P < 0.01). Seroprevalence (14%) in the present study was significantly lower than in 84 lynx (36%) trapped in the same region during winter 1997-1998 (Odd ratio = 0.18, 95% Confidence Interval = 0.08-0.44, P < 0.001). We review possible ecological factors, biotic and abiotic, to explain for our findings and we highlight the need to consider spatio-temporal dynamics of T. gondii infection in highly cyclical predator-prey populations when interpreting prevalence data.