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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 #376054

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

Location: Animal Parasitic Diseases Laboratory

Title: Epidemiologic significance of Toxoplasma gondii infections in chickens (Gallus domesticus): the past decade

item Dubey, Jitender
item PENA, HILDA - Universidad De Sao Paulo
item MURATA, FERNANDO - Non ARS Employee
item Kwok, Oliver
item YANG, YURONG - Henan Agricultural University
item GENNARI, SOLANGE - Universidad De Sao Paulo
item SU, CHUNLEI - University Of Tennessee

Submitted to: Parasitology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/5/2020
Publication Date: 7/14/2020
Citation: Dubey, J.P., Pena, H.F., Cerqueira-Cezar, C., Murata, F.H., Kwok, O.C., Yang, Y., Gennari, S.M., Su, C. 2020. Epidemiologic significance of Toxoplasma gondii infections in chickens (Gallus domesticus): the past decade. Parasitology. 147(12):1263-1289.

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 the environment is difficult. To overcome this, scientists used free range chickens to monitor contamination of soil with oocysts because chickens feed from ground. Chickens become easily infected even after ingesting a few oocysts and then develop antibodies to the parasite and viable T. gondii can be recovered from their tissues by bioassays in mice. This approach allowed to study genetic diversity of T. gondii from free range chickens worldwide. This research was completed in 2019, before closure of Toxoplasma research at USDA. These findings will be of interests to public health workers, water quality officials, biologists, epidemiologists, and parasitologists.

Technical Abstract: Toxoplasma gondii infections are common in humans and animals worldwide. Domestic free-range chickens (Gallus domesticus) are excellent sentinels of environmental contamination with T. gondii oocysts because they feed from ground. Chickens can be easily infected with T. gondii however, clinical toxoplasmosis is rare in these hosts. Chickens are comparatively inexpensive and thus are good for tracers of T. gondii infections on the farms. Here, the authors review prevalence, persistence of infection, clinical disease, epidemiology, and genetic diversity of T. gondii strains isolated from chickens worldwide for the past decade. Data on phenotypic and molecular characters of 783 viable T. gondii strains from chickens are discussed, including new data on T. gondii isolates from chickens in Brazil. This paper will be of interest to biologists, epidemiologists, veterinarians and parasitologists.