Submitted to: Journal of Parasitology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: February 1, 2000
Publication Date: N/A
Interpretive Summary: Toxoplasma gondii is a single-celled parasite that can cause mental retardation in congenitally infected children and abortion and loss of vision in livestock. Humans become infected by ingesting infected meat or by ingesting food and water contaminated with the resistant form of Toxoplasma (oocyst) excreted by cats. Little is known of the prevalence of fT. gondii in ostriches although these animals are being raised in N. America for lean meat. Scientists at the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, Saskatoon have found antibodies to T. gondii in 28 (2.9%) of 973 ostriches in Canada. This study suggests a low risk for humans of acquiring toxoplasmosis from ostriches. These findings will be of interest to biologists, veterinarians, parasitologists and public health workers.
Technical Abstract: Serum samples from 973 ostriches (Struthio camelus) in Canada were examined for antibodies to Toxoplasma gondii by the modified agglutination test incorporating mercaptoethanol and formalin-fixed whole tachyzoites. Twenty-eight (2.9%) of the 973 birds were found to be seropositive for antibodies to T. gondii at titers of 1:25 in 15 birds, 1:50 in 12 birds, and 1:500 in 1 bird. This is the first record of T. gondii exposure in ostriches, and it supports the hypothesis that all avian species are susceptible to Toxoplasma infection. Nevertheless, the results of this study suggest that the risk of acquiring toxoplasmosis from ostriches as a food source is low.