Prevalence of Toxoplasma gondii antibodies in red deer (Cervus elaphus) and other wild ruminants from Spain.

Research paper by C B L CB Gauss, J P JP Dubey, D D Vidal, O O Cabezón, F F Ruiz-Fons, J J Vicente, I I Marco, S S Lavin, C C Gortazar, S S Almería

Indexed on: 20 Dec '05Published on: 20 Dec '05Published in: Veterinary Parasitology


Serum samples from 441 red deer (Cervus elaphus) and 161 other wild ruminant species, collected between 1993 and 2005 from six regions of Spain were tested for antibodies against Toxoplasma gondii by the modified agglutination test (MAT). Antibodies to T. gondii (MAT 1:25 or higher) were detected in 15.6% of red deer. Statistically significant differences were observed among sampling sites with seroprevalence in red deer from Catalonia (42.2%) being significantly higher compared with other Spanish regions (8.7%) (P < 0.05). Statistically significant differences were not observed between T. gondii seroprevalence and sex, age or management of hunting estates (open versus fenced). Seroprevalence of T.gondii infection in other ruminants species was 24% of 79 fallow deer (Dama dama), 21.8% of 33 in roe deer (Capreolus capreolus), 33.3% of three Spanish ibex (Capra pyrenaica), 20% of 10 chamois (Rupicapra pyrenaica), 10% of 10 barbary sheep (Ammotragus lervia), and 14.8% of 27 mouflon (Ovis ammon) in areas not including Catalonia, where no samples from these species were available. Serological results indicated a widespread exposure to T. gondii among wildlife in Spain and suggest that consumption of raw or inadequately cooked meat, as well as handling carcasses of wild game, should be taken into account as a source of infection for humans.