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Theor Popul Biol. 2013 Jun;86:50-61. doi: 10.1016/j.tpb.2013.04.001. Epub 2013 Apr 24.

Modeling effective transmission pathways and control of the world's most successful parasite.

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  • 1Department of Mechanical, Aerospace, and Biomedical Engineering, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN, United States.


Toxoplasma gondii(T. gondii) is a single-celled, intracellular protozoan responsible for the disease toxoplasmosis. The parasite is prevalent worldwide, and it infects all warm-blooded vertebrates. Consumption of meats in which this parasite has encysted confers risk of infection to people and other animals, as does ingestion of water or foods contaminated with environmentally resistant oocysts excreted by cats. Vertical transmission (from mother to offspring) is also possible, leading to disease risk and contributing additional means of ensuring perpetuation of transmission. In this work, we adopt a differential equation model to investigate the effective transmission pathways of T. gondii, as well as potential control mechanisms. Detailed analyses are carried out to examine the significance of transmission routes, virulence, vertical transmission, parasite-induced changes in host behavior, and controls based on vaccination and harvesting. Modeling and analysis efforts may shed insights into understanding the complex life cycle of T. gondii.

Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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