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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: DEVELOPMENT OF AN INTEGRATED RISK MODEL FOR FOODBORNE ZOONOTIC PARASITES IN SWINE Title: Characterization of Toxoplasma Gondii from Raccoons (Procyon Lotor), Coyotes (Canis Latrans ), and Striped Skunks (Mephitis Mephitis) in Wisconsin Identified Several Atypical Genotypes

item Dubey, Jitender
item Sundar, N - USDA ARS ANRI APDL
item Velmurgan, G - USDA ARS ANRI APDL
item Bandini, La - USDA ARS ANRI APDL
item Kwok, Oliver
item Bodenstein, B - U WISCONSIN MADISON

Submitted to: Journal of Parasitology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: August 1, 2007
Publication Date: December 5, 2007
Citation: Dubey, J.P., Sundar, N., Nolden, C.A., Samuel, M.D., Velmurgan, G.V., Bandini, L., Kwok, O.C., Bodenstein, B., Su, C. 2007. Characterization of Toxoplasma gondii from raccoons (Procyon lotor), coyotes (Canis latrans ), and striped skunks (Mephitis mephitis) in Wisconsin identified several atypical genotypes. Journal of Parasitology. 93:1524-1527

Interpretive Summary: Toxoplasma gondii is a single-celled parasite of all warm-blooded hosts worldwide. It causes mental retardation and loss of vision in children, and abortion in livestock. Cats are the main reservoir of T. gondii because they are the only hosts that can excrete the resistant stage (oocyst) of the parasite in the feces. Humans become infected by eating undercooked meat from infected animals and food and water contaminated with oocysts.Toxoplasmosis causes mortality in many species of animals in the zoos, especially primates. Scientists at the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center and the University of Wisconsin report high prevalence of Toxoplasma in wildlife from Misconsin. The results will be of interest to biologists, parasitologists, and veterinarians.

Technical Abstract: During 2005-2006, sera and tissues from raccoons (Procyon lotor), coyotes (Canis latrans), and skunks (Mephitis mephitis) from the state of Wisconsin were tested for Toxoplasma gondii infection. Antibodies to T. gondii were found in 32 of 54 (59.2 %) raccoons, 18 of 35 (51.4 %) coyotes, and 5 of 7 (71.4 %) skunks using the modified agglutination test and a cut-off titer of 1:20. Pooled tissues (brains, hearts, and tongues) from 30 raccoons, 15 coyotes, and 1 skunk were bioassayed for T. gondii infection in mice or cats. Viable T. gondii was isolated from 5 of 30 (16.7%) raccoons, 6 of 15 (40.0%) coyotes and the skunk. Genetic characterization of the 12 parasite isolates by multi-locus PCR-RFLP markers revealed 6 different genotypes including 5 atypical and 1 archetypal II lineages. The results indicate the prevalence of T. gondii in wildlife mammals is high and that these animals may serve as an important reservoir for transmission of T. gondii.

Last Modified: 4/22/2015
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