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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 #306838

Title: Diagnosis of toxoplasmosis-associated abortion in an alpaca (Vicugna pacos) fetus

item Dubey, Jitender
item JOHNSON, JAMES - The Joint Pathology Center (JPC)
item HANSON, MARGARET - The Joint Pathology Center (JPC)
item PIERCE, VIRGINIA - Maryland Department Of Agriculture

Submitted to: Veterinary Parasitology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/1/2014
Publication Date: 7/1/2014
Publication URL:
Citation: Dubey, J.P., Johnson, J., Hanson, M., Pierce, V. 2014. Diagnosis of toxoplasmosis-associated abortion in an alpaca (Vicugna pacos) fetus. Veterinary Parasitology. 45:461-464.

Interpretive Summary: Toxoplasmosis is a costly foodborne parasitic infection, of especially great concern to pregnant women and people with immune deficiency. Although infection is widely prevalent, only a minority of veterinary and human infections result in severe clinical disease. Of major interest is understanding the determinants to acute toxoplasmosis. Parasite genetics, host physiology, and host immune status are clearly important. Within this context, it is important to study pathogenesis when disease is severe, especially in hosts from which infection has not been previously reported. Here, we describe in detail a case of acute, fatal toxoplasmosis in an alpaca. It is the first report of disease in this animal, and a rare example of disease in camelids, to which alpacas belong. The animal aborted and Toxoplasma was recognized in fetal brain. This information will interest veterinarians, parasitologists, and all those concerned with the health effects of such foodborne parasites.

Technical Abstract: A near full term alpaca (Vicugna pacos) was stillborn two days before expected date of delivery; necropsy examination was conducted within six hours of delivery. Gross lesions were enlarged liver and hydrocephalus. On histologic examination, mild inflammatory lesions were identified in the placenta, liver, lungs, and kidney although no etiology was recognized. Within the brain there was a mild nonsuppurative meningoencephalitis, hydrocephalus, hydromyelia, and protozoal tissue cysts identified as Toxoplasma gondii. These tissue cysts exhibited intense positive immunoreactivity to T. gondii polyclonal antibody, and mild positive immunoreactivity to N. caninum antibodies. The dam had a high antibody titer (1:12800) to T. gondii and low titer (1:100) to N. caninum using their respective agglutination tests. This is the first report of toxoplasmosis-associated abortion in alpaca.