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Int J Parasitol Parasites Wildl. 2018 Nov 10;7(3):432-438. doi: 10.1016/j.ijppaw.2018.11.001. eCollection 2018 Dec.

Genetic diversity of Toxoplasma gondii isolates obtained from free-living wild birds rescued in Southeastern Brazil.

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Departamento de Parasitologia, Instituto de Ciências Biológicas, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais (ICB-UFMG), CEP, 31270-901, Belo Horizonte, MG, Brazil.


Recent studies carried out in Brazil have shown that strains from the same Toxoplasma gondii genotype can infect humans, domestic animals (dogs and cats) and animals slaughtered for human consumption (pigs, sheep, goats, and chickens), suggesting a common infection route. However, little is known about the importance of free-living wild birds within this epidemiological context. The objective of this work was to isolate, genotype, and evaluate the virulence for mice of new isolates of T. gondii obtained from free-living wild birds from the state of Minas Gerais, Southeastern Brazil. From August 2016 to June 2017, T. gondii was isolated from the hearts and brains collected from 6 out of 45 free-living wild birds, namely, a roadside hawk (Rupornis magnirostris), a campo flicker (Colaptes campestris), a southern caracara (Caracara plancus) and a tropical screech-owl (Megascops choliba), all rescued in Belo Horizonte. One isolate was obtained from a toco toucan (Ramphastos toco), rescued in Cristiano Otoni, and another was obtained from southern caracara, rescued in Santa Luzia. Five different genotypes were identified by PCR-RFLP. A unique genotype was shared in two different isolates obtained from a southern caracara and a toco toucan. This genotype has never been previously described in any other host or place. Three isolates were classified as of intermediary virulence and three isolates as avirulent for mice. The combined analysis of alleles ROP18/ROP5 (a serine/threonine kinase, and a polymorphic pseudokinase, respectively) was effective in determining the virulence of five of all the isolates with the exception of that from R. magnirostris. Atypical isolates of T. gondii obtained from free-living wild birds rescued in the state of Minas Gerais share the same genotypes of strains that infect humans, domestic animals, and animals slaughtered for human consumption.


Genotypes; PCR-RFLP; ROP18; ROP5; Toxoplasma gondii; Wild birds

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