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Vet Parasitol. 1992 May;42(3-4):199-211.

The epidemiology of toxoplasmosis on Iowa swine farms with an emphasis on the roles of free-living mammals.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology, Immunology, Iowa State University, Ames 50011.


Multiparous sows from 19 central Iowa swine farms were tested for antibodies against Toxoplasma gondii by the modified direct agglutination test. Antibody titers of 1:32 or greater were considered positive. Rodents, domestic cats, opossums (Didelphis virginiana), raccoons (Procyon lotor) and striped skunks (Mephitis mephitis) were live-trapped on each farm and similarly tested for antibodies. The overall prevalence of T. gondii antibodies in the species tested was 39/273 (14.3%) swine, 31/74 (41.9%) cats, 2/588 (0.3%) house mice (Mus musculus), 0/21 mice of the genus Peromyscus, 0/9 Norway rats (Rattus norvegicus), 1/34 (2.9%) opossums, 4/14 (28.6%) raccoons and 2/7 (28.6%) striped skunks. The overall prevalence was significantly greater in adult cats versus juvenile cats, adult male cats versus adult female cats, and adult raccoons versus juvenile raccoons. The prevalence of T. gondii antibodies in sows was compared with the prevalence in each non-swine species on a farm basis in order to identify existing associations. The prevalence in sows (and each of the non-swine species) was also analyzed on a farm basis for association with farm characteristics or swine management practices, including the degree of confinement of swine, population size and average parity of breeding female swine, estimated cat population size, and estimated mouse and rat abundance. Average titers of seropositive animals were compared on a species basis. The prevalence in sows which were totally and continuously confined was lower than that in sows which were not totally and continuously confined. The prevalence in sows from farms with an average parity of less than 2.0 was significantly lower than that in sows from farms with an average parity of 2.0 or greater. These results suggested that the prevalence of T. gondii antibodies in swine increased with age and that prevalence in swine could be reduced through total confinement. No associations could be established between prevalence in sows and prevalence in non-swine species or other farm characteristics/swine management practices. However, the high prevalence of T. gondii antibodies in cats suggested that fecal contamination of the environment by cats may be the most significant source of toxoplasmosis for swine. The extremely low prevalence of T. gondii antibodies in house mice suggested that this species was not an important source of T. gondii for swine in Iowa.

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