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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 #333184

Research Project: Detection and Control of Foodborne Parasites for Food Safety

Location: Animal Parasitic Diseases Laboratory

Title: Occurrence of Toxoplasma gondii antibodies in Lowland Tapirs (Tapirus terrestris) maintained ex-situ in Brazil and Paraguay

item GONDIM, MARIA - Universidade Vila Velha
item DA C.L. ACOSTA, IGOR - Universidade De Sao Paulo
item SOARES, HERBERT - Universidade De Sao Paulo
item GENNARI, SOLANGE - Universidade De Sao Paulo
item Dubey, Jitender
item ROSSI, JOAO - Universidade Vila Velha

Submitted to: Ciencia Rural
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/22/2016
Publication Date: 1/5/2017
Publication URL:
Citation: Gondim, M., Da C.L. Acosta, I., Soares, H.S., Gennari, S., Dubey, J.P., Rossi, J.L. 2017. Occurrence of Toxoplasma gondii antibodies in Lowland Tapirs (Tapirus terrestris) maintained ex-situ in Brazil and Paraguay. Ciencia Rural. 47:03 e20160712.

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. In the present study authors found antibodies to T. gondii in 74.5% (35 of 47) wild tapirs (Tapirus terrestris) from Brazil. Tapirus terrestris, known as Brazilian tapir or lowland tapir, is the second largest South American land mammal. Among the four known species of tapir, T. terrestris has the widest distribution, from the east side of the Andes Mountains, as north as the northern Colombia through Rio Grande do Sul, in southern Brazil, to the northern Chaco in Argentina. Tapirus terrestris are exclusively herbivorous animals and can consume different parts of several species of plants. Tapirus terrestris is listed as vulnerable to extinction, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature. The high prevalence in this animal indicates contamination of the environment with oocysts. The results will be of interest to biologists and parasitologists.

Technical Abstract: Exposure to Toxoplasma gondii, by the presence of antibodies to the parasite, was documented in 47 Brazilian tapirs (Tapirus terrestris) maintained ex-situ in 10 Brazilian and in one Paraguayan Institution. One animal had samples collected on two occasions (November 2010 and October 2011), and 19 (40.42%) of the 47 animals were born at the Institution where the samples were collected. Serum samples were tested by the Modified Agglutination Test (MAT 25). Antibodies were detected in 35 (74.5%) of 47 animals with titers of 25 in eight, 50 in six, 100 in 12, 200 in five, 400 in one and 800 in three animals. There was no association between occurrence of T. gondii antibodies and gender (p> 0.05). The tapir that had samples collected on two occasions changed from negative to positive (titer of 50), indicating that probably the infection occurred during this period. Positive animals were found in all sampled Institutions. The high occurrence of seropositive tapirs born in captivity (19/35, 54.3%) confirms the high exposure of these mammals to T. gondii in captivity. Control measures be implemented in the studied Institutions.