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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


Location: Animal Parasitic Diseases Laboratory

Title: Detection and genotyping of Toxoplasma gondii DNA in the blood and milk of naturally infected donkeys (Equus asinus)

item Manciant, Francesca
item Nardoni, Simona
item Papini, Roberto
item Mugnaini, Linda
item Martini, Mina
item Altomonte, Iolanda
item Salari, Federica
item D'ascenzi, Carlo
item Dubey, Jitender

Submitted to: Parasites & Vectors
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/3/2014
Publication Date: 5/1/2014
Publication URL:
Citation: Manciant, F., Nardoni, S., Papini, R., Mugnaini, L., Martini, M., Altomonte, I., Salari, F., D'Ascenzi, C., Dubey, J.P. 2014. Detection and genotyping of Toxoplasma gondii DNA in the blood and milk of naturally infected donkeys (Equus asinus). Parasites & Vectors. 7:165.

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 mainly by eating under cooked meat from infected animals and food and water contaminated with oocysts. Toxoplasmosis can also be acquired by drinking raw milk, and serious clinical toxoplasmosis has resulted in humans that consumed raw goat milk. Recently, donkey milk has been used for children with allergies, especially cow milk. In the present study, authors found T. gondii DNA in milk from naturally infected donkeys. These results will be of interest to veterinarians and biologists.

Technical Abstract: Toxoplasma gondii is a worldwide zoonotic protozoan. Consumption of raw milk from infected animals is considered a risk factor for acquiring toxoplasmosis in humans. Recently, donkey milk has been indicated for therapeutic and nutritional purposes and T. gondii infection is common in donkeys. The purpose of the present paper was to detect the presence of parasite DNA in milk of T. gondii positive donkeys. Findings – Antibodies to T. gondii were found in 11 out of 44 healthy lactating donkeys by IFAT. T. gondii DNA was detected by PCR in blood of 6 and milk 3 seropositive jennies. Results of limited RFLP-PCR genotyping indicated the presence of T. gondii genotype II or III, commonly found in Europe. Conclusions – The occurrence of T. gondii DNA in milk suggests that the consumption of raw milk from seropositive donkeys could be a potential source of human infection.

Last Modified: 10/17/2017
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