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Epidemiologic investigation of seroprevalence of antibodies to Toxoplasma gondii in cats and rodents

Monica L. DeFeoDepartment of Fisheries, Animal, and Veterinary Sciences, College of the Environment and Life Sciences, University of Rhode Island, 9 E Alumni Ave, Kingston, RI 02881.
Present address is Pfizer Global Research and Development, Groton Laboratories, Pfizer Inc, Eastern Point Rd 8220/1019, Groton, CT 06340-8018.

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J. P. DubeyParasite Biology, Epidemiology and Systematics Laboratory, Animal and Natural Resources Institute, Agricultural Research Service, United States Department of Agriculture, BARC-East, Building 1001, Beltsville, MD 20705.

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Thomas N. MatherCenter for Vector-Borne Disease, University of Rhode Island, 9 E Alumni Ave, Kingston, RI 02881.

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Richard C. Rhodes IIIDepartment of Fisheries, Animal, and Veterinary Sciences, College of the Environment and Life Sciences, University of Rhode Island, 9 E Alumni Ave, Kingston, RI 02881.

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Abstract

Objective—To provide an epidemiologic investigation of the seroprevalence of antibodies to Toxoplasma gondii in populations of cats and wild rodents in Rhode Island and to address the possible epidemiologic role of wild rodents in the spread of toxoplasmosis.

Animals—200 cats and 756 small wild rodents.

Procedure—Serum samples were obtained from 84 cats in animal shelters and 116 cats in veterinary hospitals. Serum samples were also obtained from 756 small wild rodents from multiple sites in Rhode Island. Sera from rodents and cats were assayed for antibodies to T gondii by use of the modified agglutination test

Results—Overall, 42% (84/200) of cats had serum antibodies to T gondii. Seroprevalence was not significantly different between stray (50%; 42 /84) versus client-owned (36%; 42/116) cats, between male (43%; 40/94) versus female (42%; 39/93) cats, or between indoor (26%; 7/27) versus outdoor (39%; 35/89) cats. Seroprevalence rate of trapped rodents was 0.8% (6/756). Six rodents captured in Washington County accounted for of the seropositive rodents. Four of 6 of the seropositive rodents were trapped at a single site in Washington County (an abandoned barn). Five stray cats, known to have resided at the same site in Washington County as 4 of the seropositive rodents, were also found to be seropositive for antibodies to T gondii.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Seroprevalence rate in rodents was not correlated with the seroprevalence rate in cats. Stray cats, especially those known to be feral, may be more likely to perpetuate the cat-mouse cycle of T gondii than clientowned cats. (Am J Vet Res 2002;63:1714–1717)

Abstract

Objective—To provide an epidemiologic investigation of the seroprevalence of antibodies to Toxoplasma gondii in populations of cats and wild rodents in Rhode Island and to address the possible epidemiologic role of wild rodents in the spread of toxoplasmosis.

Animals—200 cats and 756 small wild rodents.

Procedure—Serum samples were obtained from 84 cats in animal shelters and 116 cats in veterinary hospitals. Serum samples were also obtained from 756 small wild rodents from multiple sites in Rhode Island. Sera from rodents and cats were assayed for antibodies to T gondii by use of the modified agglutination test

Results—Overall, 42% (84/200) of cats had serum antibodies to T gondii. Seroprevalence was not significantly different between stray (50%; 42 /84) versus client-owned (36%; 42/116) cats, between male (43%; 40/94) versus female (42%; 39/93) cats, or between indoor (26%; 7/27) versus outdoor (39%; 35/89) cats. Seroprevalence rate of trapped rodents was 0.8% (6/756). Six rodents captured in Washington County accounted for of the seropositive rodents. Four of 6 of the seropositive rodents were trapped at a single site in Washington County (an abandoned barn). Five stray cats, known to have resided at the same site in Washington County as 4 of the seropositive rodents, were also found to be seropositive for antibodies to T gondii.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Seroprevalence rate in rodents was not correlated with the seroprevalence rate in cats. Stray cats, especially those known to be feral, may be more likely to perpetuate the cat-mouse cycle of T gondii than clientowned cats. (Am J Vet Res 2002;63:1714–1717)