Location: Animal Parasitic Diseases LaboratoryTitle: Survey of toxoplasma gondii exposure in muskrats in a relatively pristine ecosystem
|AHLERS, A.A - Kansas State University|
|WOLF, T.M - University Of Minnesota|
|WINDELS, S.K - Voyageurs National Park|
|OLSON, B.T - Voyageurs National Park|
|MATYKIEWICZ, B.R - Kansas State University|
Submitted to: Journal of Parasitology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/18/2020
Publication Date: 5/18/2020
Citation: Ahlers, A., Wolf, T., Windels, S., Olson, B., Matykiewicz, B., Dubey, J.P. 2020. Survey of toxoplasma gondii exposure in muskrats in a relatively pristine ecosystem. Journal of Parasitology. 106(3):346-349.
Interpretive Summary: Ingestion of food and water fecally-contaminated with pathogenic protozoa (Cyclospora, Cystoisospora, Giardia, Cryptosporidium, Toxoplasma) can cause severe gastrointestinal disorders in humans and animals. Detection of these protozoans in water sheds is difficult. To overcome this, a USDA team and collaborators used the musk rat (Ondatra zibethicus) as sentinels to assess T. gondii exposure in a pristine watershed in rural areas. The authors found no exposure to T. gondii in 70 musk from Minnesota providing a base line for future studies. These findings will be of interests to public health workers, water quality officials, biologists, epidemiologists, and parasitologists.
Technical Abstract: Waterborne transmission of Toxoplasma gondii is assumed to be enhanced in areas with human-altered landscapes (e.g., urbanization, agriculture) and increased populations of non-native domestic and feral cats (Felis catus). However, there are no published estimates of T. gondii exposure risks in natural watersheds to establish a baseline for comparisons. We used muskrats (Ondatra zibethicus) as sentinels to assess T. gondii exposure in a pristine watershed (e.g., absent of urbanization, agriculture, and feral cats) in the Greater Voyageurs Ecosystem, northern Minnesota, USA during the summers of 2018-2019. We assayed for T. gondii antibodies in sera of live-trapped muskrats (n = 70) using a modified agglutination test. None of our samples were positive for T. gondii antibodies. Our results suggest that in landscapes retaining their ecological integrity risks of waterborne transmission of T. gondii oocycts are minimal. Additionally, our study establishes a baseline to compare T. gondii waterborne transmission risks in other human-modified watersheds.