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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 #329397

Title: Risk factors of Toxoplasma gondii infection in hunting, pet and watchdogs from Southern Spain and Northern Africa

item CANO-TERRIZA, DAVID - Universidad De Cordoba
item PUIG-RIBAS, MARIA - Autonomous University Of Barcelona
item JIMENEZ-RUIZ, SAUL - Universidad De Cordoba
item CABEZON, OSCAR - Autonomous University Of Barcelona
item ALMERIA, SONIA - Autonomous University Of Barcelona
item GALAN-RELANO, ANGELA - Universidad De Cordoba
item Dubey, Jitender
item GARCIA-BOCANEGRA, IGNACIO - Universidad De Cordoba

Submitted to: Veterinary Parasitology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/2/2016
Publication Date: 5/4/2016
Citation: Cano-Terriza, D., Puig-Ribas, M., Jimenez-Ruiz, S., Cabezon, O., Almeria, S., Galan-Relano, A., Dubey, J.P., Garcia-Bocanegra, I. 2016. Risk factors of Toxoplasma gondii infection in hunting, pet and watchdogs from Southern Spain and Northern Africa. Veterinary Parasitology. 65:363-366.

Interpretive Summary: Human toxoplasmosis, caused by single-celled parasite, Toxoplasma gondii, continues to be a significant public health problem in the United States. Pregnant women and their fetuses are exposed to elevated health risks. Cats (pets and wild) are the main reservoirs of infection because they are the only hosts that can excrete environmentally resistant stage (oocyst) in their feces. Humans and animals can acquire toxoplasmosis by ingesting food and water contaminated with oocysts. Dogs are considered good indicators of environmental contamination of oocysts. Additionally, dogs can be a direct source of infection for humans. Rolling over in cat feces can be a normal behavior in dogs increasing the risk of T. gondii transmission by direct contact if cat feces were infected with oocysts. Oocysts can remain viable on dog fur and humans can acquire infection by petting the dogs. Studies have shown that pet dog owners had significantly higher seroprevalence against T. gondii compared to people without pet dogs. In the present study, scientists found T. gondii exposure in 30.6% (235 of 769) of dogs from Spain and Africa. Infection increased with age of dogs, indicating exposure after birth. The results will be of interest to biologists, dog owners, and parasitologists.

Technical Abstract: Dogs can act as reservoirs of Toxoplasma gondii infections for humans and other hosts. Here we determined seroprevalence and risk factors of T. gondii infection in dogs from Andalusia (Southern Spain) and Ceuta (Northern Africa). Antibodies to T. gondii were detected in 235 out of 769 dogs (30.6%; CI95%: 27.3-33.8) by the modified agglutination test (MAT, cut-off of 1:25) with titers of 1:25 in 91, 1:50 in 43, 1:100 in 84, and = 1:500 in 17 dogs. The main risk factors associated with T. gondii infection in dogs were age (higher seroprevalence in older dogs), hunter activity and size (higher seroprevalence in larger and medium dogs). This is the first study on T. gondii infection in pet dogs from Spain and Ceuta. The results indicate that T. gondii is widespread in dogs in mainland Spain and Ceuta, which might have important implications for public health.