Submitted to: Journal of Parasitology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/1/1998
Publication Date: N/A
Interpretive Summary: Infections by the protozoan (single-celled) parasite, Toxoplasma gondii, are widely prevalent in humans and livestock. Toxoplasmosis causes birth defects and loss of vision in humans and abortion in livestock. Humans become infected with T. gondii by ingesting food or water contaminated with oocysts (resistant stage) excreted in feces of infected cats or by ingesting uncooked infected meat from infected animals. Scientists at the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center and the North Carolina State University, Raleigh have found T. gondii antibodies in 84% (120 of 143) hunter killed black bears from North Carolina. This is one of the highest prevalence rate of T. gondii infection in any host in the U.S. The hunters should be advised to wash their hands after handling bear carcasses and bear meat should be cooked well before consumption. This information will be useful to wildlife biologists and hunters.
Technical Abstract: Serum samples from 143 hunter-killed black bears were collected during the 1996 and 1997 black bear hunting seasons in eastern North Carolina. All samples were tested for antibodies to Toxoplasma gondii by the modified agglutination test. Antibodies to T. gondii were present in 120 of 143 (84%) bears. Females had significantly higher titers than males (Wilcoxon rank sums test, P=0.045), and titers increased with age (Jonckheere test, P=0.01). Samples collected during 1996 (n=79) were tested for antibodies to Trichinella spiralis by ELISA. No samples were positive for antibodies to T. spiralis.