OAHN Small Ruminant Research Project 2: Seroprevalence & risk factors of Toxoplasma gondii exposure in small ruminants in Ontario, Canada
Project Lead: Paula Menzies (OVC)
Collaborators: Shannon Meadows (OVC), Karen Shapiro (UC Davis)
Toxoplasmosis is a zoonotic infection caused by Toxoplasma gondii, a protozoan parasite for which only cats serve as definitive hosts. Researchers wanted to determine the seroprevalence of Toxoplasma gondii exposure in sheep and goats in Ontario and identify risk factors for T. gondii exposure in sheep and goats
Researchers took a cross-sectional serologic survey of sheep and goat farms in Ontario, including 39 meat sheep, 9 dairy sheep, 28 meat goat, 30 dairy goat between August 2010 and February 2012. A questionnaire was completed on each farm to collect data on farm-level management factors. Sera were analysed using an immunofluorescent antibody test (IFAT) with 1:80 seropositivity cut-off.
The high seroprevalence identified in this study suggests a significant risk to humans of contracting infection from T. gondii may occur from consumption of undercooked meat or unpasteurized milk from sheep and goats in Ontario flocks and herds. It also suggests that the risk of abortion and neonatal loss caused by T. gondii infection is high in Ontario flocks and herds. This study supports the critical need to develop a safe and effective vaccine to prevent T. gondii infection in small ruminants.