High Prevalence and Genotypes of Toxoplasma gondii Isolated from Organic Pigs in Northern USA
June 14, 2012 —
The ingestion of undercooked pork infected with Toxoplasma gondii is considered an important source of transmission of this parasite. While T. gondii infection in confinement raised market pigs (market pigs are typically used for fresh, unprocessed pork products) in the USA has decreased significantly over the last 20 years, infection levels in pigs with access to the outdoors can be quite high. An upsurge in consumer demand for "organically raised", "humanely raised" and "free range" pork products has resulted in increasing numbers of hogs being raised in non-confinement systems. To determine T. gondii infection rate in these organic pigs, prevalence of T. gondii in organically raised pigs in two establishments (Farm 1, Farm 2) in Michigan was investigated. Serum and tissue samples from 33 pigs on the farm were available for T. gondii evaluation at slaughter. Serological testing was performed using both ELISA and the modified agglutination test (MAT). Antibodies to T. gondii were detected by both ELISA and MAT in 30 of 33 animals with MAT titers of 1:25 in three, 1:50 in six, 1:100 in seven, 1:200 in 13, and 1:400 in one. Hearts of all 33 pigs were bioassayed for T. gondii in mice; T. gondii was isolated from 17 pigs including one from a seronegative (both ELISA and MAT) pig. Genetic typing of 16 of the 17 T. gondii isolates using the SAG1, SAG2, SAG3, BTUB, GRA6, c22-8, c29-2, L358, PK1 and Apico loci revealed clonal Type II from Farm 1 and clonal Type III on Farm 2. These results revealed very high prevalence of T. gondii in organic pigs for the first time in USA, indicating potentially increased health risk of consuming organic swine products.
Dubey, J.P., et al., High prevalence and genotypes of Toxoplasma gondii isolated from organic pigs in northern USA. Vet. Parasitol. (2012), doi:10.1016/j.vetpar.2012.03.008
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