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J Parasitol. 2006 Feb;92(1):184-6.

Characterization of Toxoplasma gondii isolates in free-range chickens from Portugal.

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U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Animal and Natural Resources Institute, Animal Parasitic Diseases Laboratory, Building 1001, Beltsville, Maryland 20705-2350, USA.


The prevalence of Toxoplasma gondii in free-ranging chickens is a good indicator of the prevalence of T. gondii oocysts in the soil because chickens feed from the ground. The prevalence of T. gondii in 225 free-range chickens (Gallus domesticus) from Portugal was determined. Antibodies to T. gondii were assayed by the modified agglutination test (MAT) and found in 61 chickens with titers of 1:5 in 8, 1:10 in 6, 1:20 in 3, 1:40 in 23, 1:80 in 5, 1:160 in 4, 1:320 in 8, and 1:640 or higher in 4. Hearts, leg muscles, and brains of 15 seropositive (MAT 1:10 or higher) chickens were bioassayed individually in mice. Tissue from 38 chickens with titers of 1:5 or less were pooled and fed to a T. gondii-free cat. Feces of the cat were examined for oocysts, but none was found. Toxoplasma gondii was isolated from 16 of 19 chickens with MAT titers of 1:10 or higher. Genotyping of 12 of these 16 isolates with polymorphisms at the SAG2 locus indicated that 4 were type III, and 8 were type II. None of the isolates was lethal for mice. Phenotypically, T. gondii isolates from chickens from Portugal were different from those of T. gondii isolates from chickens from Brazil.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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