Detection of Toxoplasma gondii DNA in the milk of naturally infected ewes.

Veterinary parasitology

PubMedID: 21216534

Camossi LG, Greca-Júnior H, Corrêa AP, Richini-Pereira VB, Silva RC, Da Silva AV, Langoni H. Detection of Toxoplasma gondii DNA in the milk of naturally infected ewes. Vet Parasitol. 2011;177(3-4):256-61.
Toxoplasmosis is the major parasitic disease affecting sheep. It is important for veterinary medicine, animal science and public health since it causes reproductive and economic losses in the herd, as well as damaging human health due to consumption of contaminated meat and milk, which can facilitate zoonotic transmission. Detection of Toxoplasma gondii in ovine milk and lack of data in the literature describing differentiation between acute and chronic disease for this species stimulated the elaboration of the present research project. To achieve the aim of this study, the animals were allocated to two groups of 20 ewes each, of which group 1 was composed of animals with positive serology and group 2 with negative serology. Acute and chronic stages of the disease were differentiated by modified direct agglutination test (MAT), in which antigens were fixed with formalin (MAT-AF) and methanol (MAT-AM). The parasite was detected in milk by polymerase chain reaction (PCR), and the molecular identity of the amplified products was confirmed by sequencing. The serological results indicated that sheep had a chronic infection profile. T. gondii DNA was detected in seven milk samples from five seropositive sheep, and twice in milk of two sheep. Sequences of species shared 97-100% identity with T. gondii. These findings allowed the hypothesis that the peripartum period may also lead to the resurgence of tissue T. gondii tachyzoites cysts which can circulate again and be excreted in the milk. This study used sheep naturally infected with T. gondii as a prerequisite for further investigations on the possible participation of this species in toxoplasmosis epidemiology and as a potential transmission route related to consumption of milk from infected sheep.