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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


item Humphreys J G
item Stewart R L
item Dubey Jitender P

Submitted to: American Journal of Veterinary Research
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/3/1994
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: N/A

Interpretive Summary: Infection by the protozoan parasite Toxoplasma gondii is widely prevalent in man and animals in the U.S. Ingestion of undercooked meat infected with tissue cysts is one of the major sources of infection for humans. The majority of the 350,000 white-tailed deer harvested by hunters each year in Pennsylvania are consumed by humans. Scientists at the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center and the Indiana University of Pennsylvania have found antibodies to T. gondii in 356 of 593 (60%) deer sampled in 1992. The results indicate a high exposure of deer to T. gondii infection. Therefore, all deer meat must be cooked thoroughly before human consumption. This information will be useful for public health workers to reduce Toxoplasma infection in the environment.

Technical Abstract: The majority of the 350,000-400,000 white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) harvested by hunters each year in Pennsylvania are consumed by humans. Because of possible human exposure to Toxoplasma gondii via human consumption of raw or under-cooked venison, in 1991 a study was conducted to determine seroprevalence of Toxoplasma gondii antibodies in hunter-killed deer in Pennsylvania. Blood collection kits were distributed to 2000 hunters prior to the 1991 deer hunting season. Successful hunters were asked to collect an 8 ml vial of blood from their deer and mail it postpaid to the investigators. Five hundred and ninty-three non-contaminated sera were received. Sera were tested by an agglutination test at dilutions of 1:25, 1:50, and 1:500. Of the deer tested, 60% (356/593) were positive; at 1:25, 10%, at 1:50 23%, and at 1:500, 27%. No differences were noted between positive male (59.9%) and female (60.2%) animals.

Last Modified: 05/27/2017
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