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Parasit Vectors. 2019 Apr 3;12(1):155. doi: 10.1186/s13071-019-3408-9.

Serological and molecular detection of Toxoplasma gondii in terrestrial and marine wildlife harvested for food in Nunavik, Canada.

Author information

1
Department of Veterinary Microbiology, Western College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, S7H 5B4, Canada. nickbachand@gmail.com.
2
Groupe de Recherche en épidémiologie des Zoonoses et Santé Publique, Département de Pathologie et Microbiologie, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Université de Montréal, Saint-Hyacinthe, J2S 2M2, Canada. nickbachand@gmail.com.
3
Groupe de Recherche en épidémiologie des Zoonoses et Santé Publique, Département de Pathologie et Microbiologie, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Université de Montréal, Saint-Hyacinthe, J2S 2M2, Canada.
4
Department of Veterinary Microbiology, Western College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, S7H 5B4, Canada.
5
Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative, Western College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, S7N 5B4, Canada.
6
National Reference Centre for Parasitology, J.D. MacLean Tropical Diseases Centre, McGill University, Montréal, QC, H4A 3J1, Canada.
7
Nunavik Research Center, Makivik Corporation, Kuujjuaq, Canada.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Toxoplasma gondii, a zoonotic protozoan parasite, infects mammals and birds worldwide. Infection in humans is often asymptomatic, though illnesses can occur in immunocompromised hosts and the fetuses of susceptible women infected during pregnancy. In Nunavik, Canada, 60% of the Inuit population has measurable antibodies against T. gondii. Handling and consumption of wildlife have been identified as risk factors for exposure. Serological evidence of exposure has been reported for wildlife in Nunavik; however, T. gondii has not been detected in wildlife tissues commonly consumed by Inuit.

METHODS:

We used a magnetic capture DNA extraction and real-time PCR protocol to extract and amplify T. gondii DNA from large quantities of tissues (up to 100 g) of 441 individual animals in Nunavik: 166 ptarmigan (Lagopus lagopus), 156 geese (Branta canadensis and Chen caerulescens), 61 ringed seals (Pusa hispida), 31 caribou (Rangifer tarandus) and 27 walruses (Odobenus rosmarus).

RESULTS:

DNA from T. gondii was detected in 9% (95% CI: 3-15%) of geese from four communities in western and southern Nunavik, but DNA was not detected in other wildlife species including 20% (95% CI: 12-31%) of ringed seals and 26% (95% CI: 14-43%) of caribou positive on a commercial modified agglutination test (MAT) using thawed heart muscle juice. In geese, tissue parasite burden was highest in heart, followed by brain, breast muscle, liver and gizzard. Serological results did not correlate well with tissue infection status for any wildlife species.

CONCLUSIONS:

To our knowledge, this is the first report on the detection, quantification, and characterization of DNA of T. gondii (clonal lineage II in one goose) from wildlife harvested for food in Nunavik, which supports the hypothesis that migratory geese can carry T. gondii into Nunavik where feline definitive hosts are rare. This study suggests that direct detection methods may be useful for detection of T. gondii in wildlife harvested for human consumption and provides data needed for a quantitative exposure assessment that will determine the risk of T. gondii exposure for Inuit who harvest and consume geese in Nunavik.

KEYWORDS:

Food-borne pathogen; Public health; Toxoplasma gondii; Wildlife; Zoonosis

PMID:
30944016
PMCID:
PMC6448294
DOI:
10.1186/s13071-019-3408-9
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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