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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 #375901

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

Location: Animal Parasitic Diseases Laboratory

Title: Public health importance of Toxoplasma gondii infections in horses and donkeys: the last decade

item Dubey, Jitender
item MURATA, FERNANDO - Non ARS Employee
item Kwok, Oliver

Submitted to: Research in Veterinary Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/10/2020
Publication Date: 10/1/2020
Publication URL:
Citation: Dubey, J.P., Murata, F.H., Cerqueira-Cézar, C., Kwok, O.C. 2020. Public health importance of Toxoplasma gondii infections in horses and donkeys: the last decade. Research in Veterinary Science. 132(492-499).

Interpretive Summary: Food safety research is of paramount importance for agriculture and the public. Foodborne protozoon infections are a leading cause of death from foodborne illness in the United States, especially for individuals with weak immune systems such as children and HIV patients. USDA research in this area has borne undeniable results – including helping to cut the prevalence of Toxoplasma gondii by as much as 50 percent in the United States. The USDA provided the veterinary, clinical, and public health communities an indispensable resource by disseminating up to date scientific information on toxoplasmosis and its prevention. Humans become infected mostly by ingesting food and water contaminated with oocysts or by eating infected under cooked meat. Horse and donkey meat is eaten in several countries and humans in France have developed severe toxoplasmosis after ingesting raw horse meat. Here, the authors review prevalence, persistence of infection, clinical disease, epidemiology, and public health risks of T. gondii infections in humans from equids worldwide for the past decade. This information will support veterinarians, physicians, and federal agencies seeking to advance additional research needed in this area regarding human health.

Technical Abstract: Toxoplasma gondii infections are common in humans and animals worldwide. Toxoplasmosis in horses and donkeys continues to be of public health concern. The present review summarizes worldwide information on the prevalence of clinical and subclinical infections, epidemiology, diagnosis, and genetic diversity of T. gondii in horses and donkeys in the past decade. There is debate and uncertainty regarding excretion of T. gondii in milk and the ingestion of raw milk as sources of T. gondii infection for humans. This review will be of interest to biologists, parasitologists, veterinarians, and public health workers.