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Int J Parasitol. 2002 Aug;32(9):1193-9.

Prevalence of Toxoplasma gondii in commercial meat products as monitored by polymerase chain reaction--food for thought?

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  • 1Department of Biomolecular Sciences, University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology, P.O. Box 88, Sackville Street, Manchester M60 1QD, UK.


DNA was extracted from 71 meat samples obtained from UK retail outlets. All of these DNA preparations gave the expected polymerase chain reaction products when amplified with primers specific for the species from which the meat originated. A second polymerase chain reaction analysis, using primers specific for the Toxoplasma gondii SAG2 locus, revealed the presence of this parasite in 27 of the meat samples. Restriction analysis and DNA sequencing showed that 21 of the contaminated meats contained parasites genotyped as type I at the SAG2 locus, whilst six of the samples contained parasites of both types I and II. Toxoplasma- positive samples were subjected to further polymerase chain reaction analysis to determine whether any carried an allele of the dihydropteroate synthase gene that has recently been shown to be causally associated with sulfonamide resistance in T. gondii. In all cases, this analysis confirmed that parasites were present in the samples and, additionally, revealed that none of them carried the drug-resistant form of dihydropteroate synthase. These results suggest that a significant proportion of meats commercially available in the UK are contaminated with T. gondii. Although none of the parasites detected in this study carried the sulfonamide-resistance mutation, a simplified procedure for monitoring this situation merits development.

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