SEARCH

SEARCH BY CITATION

Keywords:

  • Toxoplasma gondii;
  • pigs;
  • good production practices;
  • food safety;
  • seroprevalence

Summary

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) initiated the National Animal Health Monitoring System (NAHMS) in 1983 to collect, analyse and disseminate data on animal health, management and productivity in US domestic livestock populations, including swine. The programme includes an on-farm serological sampling component which can be used to monitor seroprevalence of various pathogens, including Toxoplasma gondii. The purpose of this study was to determine the seroprevalence of T. gondii in grower/finisher pigs using sera collected during NAHMS Swine 2006 and to determine farm level factors associated with differences in seroprevalence on farms where sera was collected during the Swine 2006 survey. Sera and data on management practices for this study were collected from 185 grower/finisher swine production sites located in 16 states accounting for >90% of US swine production (Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas and Wisconsin). A total of 6238 sera were tested for T. gondii antibodies using a commercial ELISA assay (Vet. Parasitol.128, 2005, 177). Seroprevalence in this study, as determined by ELISA, was 2.6%, with a herd prevalence of 21.6% and a mean within-herd prevalence of 2.7%. Analysis of swine management practices indicated that rodent control methods and carcass disposal methods were associated with differences in the number of T. gondii positive samples on farm. These results are consistent with current epidemiological knowledge of the transmission of Toxoplasma on the farm (ingestion of organic matter containing oocysts, or ingestion of infected animal tissues). Production practices which eliminate these sources of exposure can reduce the risk of Toxoplasma infection in pigs, and reduce the likelihood of human infection from consumption of infected pork.