Original Research

Seroprevalence and associated risk factors of Toxoplasma gondii infection in domestic animals in southeastern South Africa

Whatmore M. Tagwireyi, Eric Etter, Luis Neves
Onderstepoort Journal of Veterinary Research | Vol 86, No 1 | a1688 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ojvr.v86i1.1688 | © 2019 Whatmore M. Tagwireyi, Eric Etter, Luis Neves | This work is licensed under CC Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0
Submitted: 11 September 2018 | Published: 05 November 2019

About the author(s)

Whatmore M. Tagwireyi, Department of Production Animal Studies, Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
Eric Etter, Department of Production Animal Studies, Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa; and, CIRAD, UMR Animal, Santé, Territoires, Risque et Ecosystèmes (ASTRE), Montpellier, France; and, ASTRE, Univ Montpellier, CIRAD, INRA, Montpellier, France
Luis Neves, Department of Veterinary Tropical Diseases, Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa; and, Centro de Biotecnologia, Universidade Eduardo Mondlane, Maputo, Mozambique


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Abstract

Toxoplasma gondii is a major neglected parasitic infection occurring in settings of extreme poverty in Africa. Apart from causing reproductive failure in animals it is also a significant zoonotic concern. The objective of this study was to determine the seroprevalence and associated risk factors of T. gondii infection in cats, chickens, goats, sheep and pigs in the southeast of South Africa, of which little is known. Sera was obtained from 601 domestic animals including 109 cats, 137 chickens, 128 goats, 121 sheep and 106 pigs managed under different production systems in different agro-ecological regions and evaluated by the Toxoreagent, a latex agglutination test for T. gondii antibody detection. Household-level and animal-level data were collected by interviewing animal owners and/or herders using a closed-ended questionnaire. The study revealed an overall farm seroprevalence of 83.33% (125/150 farms) with the highest rate of infection for the parasite found in sheep with 64.46% (78/121), followed by goats with 53.91% (69/128), pigs with 33.96% (36/106), cats with 32.11% (35/109 cats) and chickens with 33.58% (46/137). The risk factors that were found to be statistically significant (p < 0.05) to different species of seropositivites were age, location, climate, animal production system, rodent control, seropositive cat, cat-feed access and cat faecal disposal. The relatively high seroprevalence of T. gondii detected in this region suggests that domestic animals may pose a substantial public health risk through the consumption of T. gondii-infected raw meat as well as via contact with cat faeces.

Keywords

Toxoplasma gondii; latex agglutination test; seroprevalence; domestic animals; South Africa

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