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Parasitology. 2017 Sep;144(11):1433-1440. doi: 10.1017/S0031182017000865. Epub 2017 Jun 27.

East-West Divide: temperature and land cover drive spatial variation of Toxoplasma gondii infection in Eurasian otters (Lutra lutra) from England and Wales.

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School of Biosciences,Cardiff University,Sir Martin Evans Building,Museum Avenue,Cardiff,CF10 3AX,UK.
Toxoplasma Reference Unit,Public Health Wales Microbiology,Singleton Hospital,Swansea SA2 8QA,UK.


Toxoplasma gondii, a zoonotic parasite of global importance, infects all endothermic vertebrates, with extensive health implications. The prevalence of this parasite is seldom monitored in wildlife. Here, a semi-aquatic species, the Eurasian otter (Lutra lutra) was used as a model to assess the potential effect of climate, land cover and biotic factors on T. gondii seroprevalence in British wildlife. The Sabin-Feldman cytoplasm-modifying dye test identified T. gondii antibodies in 25ยท5% of blood samples from otters found dead, mainly as road kill, in England and Wales, between 2004 and 2010. Otters in the east of England were more likely to be infected with T. gondii than those in western regions. Land cover and temperature are key determinants of T. gondii infection risk, with more infection in arable areas and lower infection where temperatures are higher. The probability of T. gondii infection increased with host age, reflecting cumulative exposure with time, but there was no association between T. gondii seroprevalence and cause of host death.


landscape ecology; meteorological variation; otter; spatial distribution; toxoplasmosis; zoonosis

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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