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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: MOLECULAR GENETICS, GENOMICS, AND PHYLOGENETICS OF FOODBORNE ZOONOTIC PARASITES AFFECTING FOOD SAFETY AND PUBLIC HEALTH

Location: Animal Parasitic Diseases

Title: Traditional goat husbandry may substantially contribute to human toxoplasmosis exposure

Authors
item Pastiu, A -
item Ajzenberg, D -
item Gyorke, A -
item Suteu, O -
item Balea, A -
item Domsa, C -
item Rosenthal, Benjamin
item Cozma, V -

Submitted to: Journal of Parasitology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: June 18, 2014
Publication Date: July 8, 2014
Citation: Pastiu, A., Ajzenberg, D., Gyorke, A., Suteu, O., Balea, A., Domsa, C., Rosenthal, B.M., Cozma, V. 2014. Traditional goat husbandry may substantially contribute to human toxoplasmosis exposure. Journal of Parasitology. doi:10.1645/13-483.1.

Interpretive Summary: Toxoplasmosis is a disease that threatens human reproductive health, and can be contracted by eating meat in which the parasite has encysted. Raising goats in settings that are highly contaminated with oocysts of Toxoplasma gondii may contribute significantly to human exposure to this zoonotic parasite. Goats reared in close proximity to cats, an important source of parasite contamination, may be a particularly important source of human exposure. Here, we estimated the prevalence of T. gondii goat-kids raised in Romanian backyards and slaughtered for human consumption during the Easter season. We found that one-third of three-month old goats to be infected with T. gondii, and conclude that eating them during Easter (as barbecue, where interior portions of the cut may be insufficiently cooked) may seriously compromise food safety as a result. These data will be of interest to epidemiologists, parasitologists, and food safety professionals.

Technical Abstract: Raising goats in settings that are highly contaminated with oocysts of Toxoplasma gondii may contribute significantly to human exposure to this zoonotic parasite. Increasing consumption of young goats in Romania, where goats are typically reared in backyards that are also home to cats (the definitive host of this parasite) elevates such concern. To date, there has been little attention to either the prevalence or genotypic characteristics of T. gondii in ruminant food animals in Romania. Here, we estimated the prevalence of T. gondii goat-kids raised in backyards and slaughtered for human consumption during the Easter season. We collected 181 paired samples of sera and diaphragm. Serum samples were analyzed by ELISA for antibodies against T. gondii, and muscle tissues by PCR to detect T. gondii DNA. 32 diaphragm samples were also bioassayed in mice, and the isolates were genotyped using microsatellite markers. The overall seroprevalence of T. gondii infection in goat-kids was 33.1% (60/181; 95%CI: 26.3-40.5%), and T. gondii DNA was found in 6.1% (11/181; 95% CI 3.1-10.6) of the diaphragm samples. We isolated the parasite from 2 out of 32 goat-kids, and the T. gondii strains belonged to genotype II. The results showed that one-third of three-month old goats may be infected with T. gondii, and their consumption during Easter (as barbecue) may seriously compromise food safety as a result.

Last Modified: 12/21/2014
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