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Keywords:

  • Toxoplasma gondii;
  • waste pickers;
  • waste workers;
  • seroprevalence;
  • risk factors;
  • Mexico

Summary

Municipal waste is a potential source of infection for Toxoplasma gondii as it may contain contaminated meat with parasite tissue cysts and cat excrement with parasite oocysts. Therefore, we sought to determine the prevalence of T. gondii infection and associated characteristics in two populations exposed to municipal solid waste in Durango, Mexico. Ninety waste pickers and 83 waste workers of Durango City, Mexico were examined for T. gondii infection. They were tested for anti-T. gondii IgG and IgM antibodies using enzyme-linked immunoassays. In addition, socio-demographic and behavioural characteristics from each participant were obtained. Nineteen (21.1%) of the 90 waste pickers and seven (8.4%) of the 83 waste workers were positive for anti-T. gondii IgG antibodies. The difference in prevalence among the groups was statistically significant (P =0.03). Waste pickers aged 31–50 years showed a significantly higher prevalence (40.9%) than waste workers of the same age group (2.9%, P < 0.001). Anti-T. gondii IgM antibodies were found in two (2.2%) of the waste pickers but in none of the waste workers. The seroprevalence of T. gondii was significantly higher in workers of the waste transfer station (25.0%) than in drivers or helpers of waste vehicles (2.5%) (P =0.03). Multivariate analysis showed that T. gondii infection was associated with consuming food found in the garbage [adjusted odds ratio (OR) = 4.4; 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.6–11.8] and with lack of education (adjusted OR = 3.2; 95% CI 1.1–8.8). From this study, we conclude: (i) waste pickers may represent a risk group for T. gondii infection; (ii) lack of education might be a contributing factor for T. gondii infection; (iii) the higher the exposure to garbage, the higher the seroprevalence of T. gondii infection; (iv) Eating food products from the garbage may represent an important route for T. gondii infection.