Skip to main content
ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Pullman, Washington » Animal Disease Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #355512

Research Project: Diagnostic and Control Strategies for Malignant Catarrhal Fever

Location: Animal Disease Research

Title: Detection and genotypic characterization of toxoplasma gondii DNA within the milk of mongolian livestock

Author
item Iacobucci, Emily - Washington State University
item Fritz, Heather - Washington State University
item Papageorgiou, Sophia - University Of California, Davis
item O'conner, Roberta - Washington State University
item Taus, Naomi
item Ueti, Massaro

Submitted to: Parasitology Research
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/22/2019
Publication Date: 4/13/2019
Citation: Iacobucci, E., Fritz, H., Papageorgiou, S., O'Conner, R., Taus, N.S., Ueti, M.W. 2019. Detection and genotypic characterization of toxoplasma gondii DNA within the milk of mongolian livestock. Parasitology Research. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00436-019-06306-w.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00436-019-06306-w

Interpretive Summary: Toxoplasma gondii is a global, zoonotic parasite capable of infecting any warm-blooded host. Toxoplasmosis can cause a variety of illnesses including abortions and congenital defects in humans, sheep and goats. Congenital toxoplasmosis is considered to have the highest global disease burden of any food borne illness in humans. This study examined the potential role of milk as a route of Toxoplasma transmission between livestock and humans within Mongolian herders, a little studied population which relies heavily on animals. Milk of Mongolian sheep, goats and Bactrian camels was tested for the presence of Toxoplasma DNA and a survey was conducted to ascertain what behavioral and environmental factors were present that might potentiate Toxoplasma infection within these Mongolian communities. Toxoplasma DNA was detected in samples from one sheep and five camels. Sequence analysis of DNA from camel milk revealed that two were from potentially virulent Toxoplasma strains. This has implications for public health in the region, as milk is an extremely important source of nutrition and our survey results imply that some people believe consumption of raw camel milk carries health benefits. This is the first report of Toxoplasma DNA in Bactrian camel milk as well as the first genotypic characterization of Toxoplasma within Mongolia.

Technical Abstract: Toxoplasma gondii is a global, zoonotic parasite capable of infecting any warm-blooded host. Toxoplasmosis can cause a variety of illnesses including abortions and congenital defects in humans, sheep and goats. Congenital toxoplasmosis is considered to have the highest global disease burden of any food borne illness in humans. This study examined the potential role of milk as a route of Toxoplasma transmission between livestock and humans within Mongolian herders, a little studied population which relies heavily on animals. Milk of Mongolian sheep, goats and Bactrian camels was tested for the presence of Toxoplasma DNA and a survey was conducted to ascertain what behavioral and environmental factors were present that might potentiate Toxoplasma infection within these Mongolian communities. Toxoplasma DNA was detected in samples from one sheep and five camels. Sequence analysis of DNA from camel milk revealed that two were from potentially virulent Toxoplasma strains. This has implications for public health in the region, as milk is an extremely important source of nutrition and our survey results imply that some people believe consumption of raw camel milk carries health benefits. This is the first report of Toxoplasma DNA in Bactrian camel milk as well as the first genotypic characterization of Toxoplasma within Mongolia.