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Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2013 Mar 11;10(3):994-1005. doi: 10.3390/ijerph10030994.

Fate and transport of Toxoplasma gondii oocysts in seasonally snow covered watersheds: a conceptual framework from a melting snowpack to the Canadian arctic coasts.

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  • 1Groupe de Recherche en Épidémiologie des Zoonoses et Santé Publique, Faculté de Médecine Vétérinaire, Université de Montréal, 3200 Sicotte, CP 5000, Saint-Hyacinthe, J2S 7C6, Québec, Canada.


Toxoplasma gondii is a zoonotic protozoan that causes serious illness in humans and infects animals worldwide, including the Canadian Arctic. Indeed, high prevalence of infection amongst Inuit has been recorded, possibly due to consumption of raw infected seal meat. Here we explore the hypothesis that T. gondii oocysts contaminate the coastal marine environment via surface runoff from across the boreal watershed, particularly during the snowmelt period. We propose a conceptual framework of the different processes governing the fate and transport of T. gondii oocysts from the melting snowpack to the Canadian arctic coast via the freshwater runoff. This framework identifies the feasibility of a transmission pathway of oocysts from contaminated soil to the marine environment, but also the complexity and multiplicity of mechanisms involved. In addition, the framework identifies knowledge gaps for guiding future studies on T. gondii oocysts. Furthermore, this work could be used as a tool to investigate the possible estuarine contamination by other faeces-borne pathogens transported via the spring freshet in seasonally snow covered watersheds.

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