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Detection of Toxoplasma gondii in naturally infected domestic pigs in Northern Serbia

Kuruca, Ljiljana, Klun, Ivana, Uzelac, Aleksandra, Nikolić, Aleksandra, Bobić, Branko, Simin, Stanislav, Lalošević, Vesna, Lalošević, Dušan, Djurković-Djaković, Olgica
Parasitology research 2017 v.116 no.11 pp. 3117-3123
DNA, Toxoplasma gondii, agglutination tests, antibodies, bioassays, blood, commercial farms, diaphragm, genome, human diseases, humans, mice, parasites, pork, quantitative polymerase chain reaction, serology, seroprevalence, swine, Serbia
Insufficiently cooked pork is considered as an important source of human infection with Toxoplasma gondii. The aim of our study was to investigate the presence of T. gondii in pigs intended for human consumption from Northern Serbia. Blood and diaphragm samples were collected from 182 naturally infected market-weight pigs, originating from both commercial farms and smallholdings. Sera were examined using modified agglutination test (MAT), and diaphragms from seropositive, as well as from some MAT-negative pigs, were bioassayed in mice. In addition, digests were examined for the presence of T. gondii DNA using a real-time polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) which was targeted at the 529 bp repetitive element of the T. gondii genome. The overall seroprevalence of T. gondii in pigs was 17% (31/182), with no difference between pigs from large commercial farms (17.8%) and those raised on smallholdings (16.3%). However, the seroprevalence in farm pigs was largely influenced by the findings on a single farm, where all examined animals tested positive. Parasites and/or parasite DNA were detected in the tissues of 15 of the 45 (25 seropositive and 20 seronegative) animals examined by either direct method. Tissue cysts were isolated in eight bioassays and an additional bioassay was positive by serology; all nine were confirmed positive by qPCR. All positive bioassays originated from seropositive pigs, but no correlation was observed between isolation rate and antibody titer. T. gondii DNA was detected in diaphragm tissues of eight pigs, of which three were seronegative. The results of our study provide further evidence for pork as a source of human T. gondii infection.