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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 #352543

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

Location: Animal Parasitic Diseases Laboratory

Title: Tracking Toxoplasma gondii in freshwater ecosystems: interaction with the invasive American mink (Neovison vison) in Spain

item RIBAS, MARIA - Autonomous University Of Barcelona
item ALMERIA, SONIA - Autonomous University Of Barcelona
item FERNANDEZ-AGUILAR, XAVIER - Autonomous University Of Barcelona
item DE PEDRO, GABRIEL - Food And Drug Administration(FDA)
item LIZARRAGA, PATRICIA - Martioda Wildlife Rehabilitation Center
item ALARCIA-ALEJOS, OLGA - Department Of Building And Environment
item MOLINA-LOPEZ, RAFAEL - Wildlife Center Of Torreferrussa
item OBON, ELENA - Wildlife Center Of Torreferrussa
item GHOLIPOUR, HOJJAT - Shiraz University
item TEMINO, CONSUELO - Martioda Wildlife Rehabilitation Center
item Dubey, Jitender
item CABEZON, OSCAR - Autonomous University Of Barcelona

Submitted to: Parasitology Research
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/9/2018
Publication Date: 5/21/2018
Citation: Ribas, M.P., Almeria, S., Fernandez-Aguilar, X., De Pedro, G., Lizarraga, P., Alarcia-Alejos, O., Molina-Lopez, R., Obon, E., Gholipour, H., Temino, C., Dubey, J.P., Cabezon, O. 2018. Tracking Toxoplasma gondii in freshwater ecosystems: interaction with the invasive American mink (Neovison vison) in Spain. Parasitology Research.

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. Epidemiological data indicate that ingestion of water or foods contaminated with oocysts from cat feces is the main mode of transmission in humans in the USA. Assessing contamination of waterways for oocysts is technically difficult. In the present study, the authors found a very high rate of T. gondii infection (78.8% of 678) American mink (Neovison vison) in the wild, indicating contamination of water with oocysts. The results will be useful for parasitologists, biologists, and epidemiologists.

Technical Abstract: Water-borne transmission may play an important role in the epidemiology of Toxoplasma gondii. Mammals closely related to freshwater ecosystems, such as the American mink (Neovison vison), are potentially valuable sentinels for T. gondii. To assess the importance of freshwater ecosystems in T. gondii epidemiology, sera of 678 American minks collected during the 2010 to 2015 Spanish national eradication campaigns were tested for the presence of T. gondii antibodies using the modified agglutination test (MAT, cut-off 1:25). A high prevalence of samples, 78.8% (CI95%: 75.5–81.8) were seropositive. In addition, a specific real time PCR was performed in 120 brain samples and the parasite DNA was detected in 9.2% (CI95%: 5.2-15.7). Significant differences in seroprevalence were detected among bioregions, with the highest levels detected in coastal areas, and by age. The higher seroprevalence observed in older animals (80.0% adults versus 68.7% juveniles) confirms the importance of the horizontal transmission. These results indicate a widespread presence of T. gondii oocysts in freshwater ecosystems from Spain and further support the importance of water-borne transmission in the epidemiology of T. gondii.