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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 #340903

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

Location: Animal Parasitic Diseases Laboratory

Title: Prevalence of Zoonotic Parasites in Feral Cats of Central Virginia, United States

Author
item Taetzsch, Sara - VIRGINIA-MARYLAND REGIONAL COLLEGE OF VETERINARY MEDICINE (VMRCVM)
item Gruszynski, Karen - VIRGINIA DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH
item Bertke, Amanda - VIRGINIA-MARYLAND REGIONAL COLLEGE OF VETERINARY MEDICINE (VMRCVM)
item Dubey, Jitender
item Monti, Katelynn - VIRGINIA-MARYLAND REGIONAL COLLEGE OF VETERINARY MEDICINE (VMRCVM)
item Zajac, Anne - VIRGINIA-MARYLAND REGIONAL COLLEGE OF VETERINARY MEDICINE (VMRCVM)
item Lindsay, David - VIRGINIA-MARYLAND REGIONAL COLLEGE OF VETERINARY MEDICINE (VMRCVM)

Submitted to: Zoonoses and Public Health
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/27/2018
Publication Date: 8/1/2018
Citation: Taetzsch, S., Gruszynski, K., Bertke, A., Dubey, J.P., Monti, K., Zajac, A., Lindsay, D. 2018. Prevalence of Zoonotic Parasites in Feral Cats of Central Virginia, United States. Zoonoses and Public Health. 65:728–735. https://doi.org/10.1111/zph.12488.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/zph.12488

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 by eating under cooked meat from infected animals and food and water contaminated with oocyst. Additionally, cats are hosts to several other zoonotic parasites. In the present study, authors tested 275 feral cats from Central Virginia for zoonotic parasites. They found serum antibodies to T. gondii in 24%, and T. gondii- like oocysts in feces of cats. Other parasites stages in feces were :Toxocara cati in 58.9% , Ancylostoma spp in 18.8% , Giardia duodenalis in 5.7%, and Cryptosporidium spp in 3.3% . They discuss the zoonotic importance of these parasites and the results should be of interest to biologists, veterinarians and parasitologists.

Technical Abstract: Objective . To assess seroprevalence of Toxoplasma gondii and copro-prevalence of potentially zoonotic fecal parasites in feral cats in Central Virginia; to evaluate risk factors for seropositivity and fecal excretion of parasites. Design. Cross-sectional survey. Sample. 275 feral cats from Trap-Neuter-Release clinics in Central Virginia. Procedure. Samples collected from feral cats (July to November 2016) were tested for T gondii antibodies (serum) by modified agglutination test and presence of parasites (feces) by flotation, immunofluorescence assay, and microscopy. Results. Toxoplasma gondii seroprevalence was 22.4% (95% CI: 17.5 - 27.9). Fecal prevalence of T gondii – like oocysts was 1.04% (95% CI: 0.1-3.7), Toxocara cati 58.9% (95% CI: 51.5- 65.9), Ancylostoma spp 18.8% (95% CI: 13.5-25.0), Giardia duodenalis 5.7% (95% CI: 2.9- 10.0), and Cryptosporidium spp 3.3% (95% CI: 1.4-7.2). Female cats were more likely than males to have multiple fecal parasite species (OR 1.80, 95% CI: 1.004 – 3.226) and to excrete Ancylostoma spp eggs (OR 2.88; 95% CI 1.34 – 6.17). Adults were more likely than immature cats to be seropositive (OR 2.10; 95% CI: 1.11 – 3.97) and to excrete Ancylostoma spp eggs (OR 2.57; 95% CI: 1.10-5.99). However, immature cats were more likely than adults to have T cati eggs in the feces (OR 6.79; 95% CI: 3.31 – 13.9). Conclusions and clinical relevance. Results of this study demonstrate that feral cats are sources of environmental contamination withinfective parasite stages, having implications for human and animal health, and highlighting the importance of collaborations between publichealth, medical, and veterinary communities in preventive efforts.