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Vet Parasitol. 2007 Sep 30;148(3-4):371-4. Epub 2007 Jul 23.

Seroprevalence of Trichinella spiralis and Toxoplasma gondii in pigs from different housing systems in The Netherlands.

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  • 1National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM), Laboratory for Zoonoses and Environmental Microbiology, Antonie van Leeuwenhoeklaan 9, P.O. Box 1, Bilthoven, The Netherlands.


Prevalences of parasitic infections in pigs from different housing systems may vary, due to their contact with the environment, and this might have consequences for food safety. In this study, 40 organic, 9 free-range and 24 intensive farms were selected and a total of 845 serum samples were tested for antibodies specific for Toxoplasma and Trichinella using ELISA assays. The overall seroprevalence of Toxoplasma in the total number of 845 serum samples tested is 2.6%, ranging from 0.38% in intensively raised pigs to 5.62% in free-range pigs. Of the housing systems tested, 4% (intensive farms) to 33% (free-range farms) is infected with Toxoplasma gondii. The risk of detecting Toxoplasma antibodies in a free-range farm are statistically higher (almost 16 times higher) than in an intensive farm. We observed that the risk of detecting specific antibodies is twice as high as in free-range compared with organic farms. Seropositivity of Trichinella spiralis antibodies was 0.12-0.35% (depending on the cut-off value at the 99.5% or 97.5% level). There was a tendency that Trichinella seropositivity was higher in organic pig farming (0.24%), but this was not significant. This serological study in pigs from different farming systems shows that the seroprevalence of antibodies specific for T. gondii is higher and for Trichinella equivalent in pigs raised in systems where there is contact with the environment than in pigs raised in intensive, indoor farming systems. This indicates that the prevalence of parasitic infections is higher in outdoor farming systems than in indoor farming systems. The possible consequences for food safety are discussed.

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