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FEMS Microbiol Rev. 2003 Dec;27(5):651-61.

How to detect Toxoplasma gondii oocysts in environmental samples?

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UPRES EA 3174, Neuroparasitologie et Neuroépidémiologie Tropicale, Faculté de Médecine, 2 Rue du Dr Marcland, F-87025 Limoges, France.


Detection of Toxoplasma gondii oocysts in environmental samples is a great challenge for researchers as this coccidian parasite can be responsible for severe infections in humans and in animals via ingestion of a single oocyst from contaminated water, soil, fruits or vegetables. Despite field investigations, oocysts have been rarely recovered from the environment due to the lack of sensitive methods. Immunomagnetic separation, fluorescence-activated cell sorting, and polymerase chain reaction have recently shown promising use in detection of protozoa from complex matrices. Such procedures could be applied to T. gondii detection, if studies on the antigenic and biochemical composition of the oocyst wall are completed. Using such methods, it will be possible to assess the occurrence, prevalence, viability and virulence of T. gondii oocysts in environmental matrices and specify sources of human and animal contamination.

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