Toxoplasma gondii is an obligate intracellular parasite capable of infecting virtually all warm-blooded species, including humans, but cats are the only definitive hosts. Humans or animals acquire T. gondii infection by ingesting food or water contaminated with sporulated oocysts or by ingesting tissue cysts containing bradyzoites. Toxoplasmosis has the highest human incidence among zoonotic parasitic diseases, but it is still considered an underreported zoonosis. The importance of T. gondii primary infection in livestock is related to the ability of the parasite to produce tissue cysts in infected animals, which may represent important sources of infection for humans.
Consumption of undercooked mutton and pork are considered important sources of human Toxoplasma gondii. The first aim of this thesis was to develop a rapid and sensitive in- house indirect ELISA for the detection of antibodies against T. gondii in sheep sera. ROC-curve analysis showed high discriminatory power (AUC=0.999) and high sensitivity (99.4%) and specificity (99.8%) of the method. The ELISA was used to test a batch of sheep sera (375) collected in the Forli-Cesena district. The overall prevalence was estimated at 41.9% demonstrating that T. gondii infection is widely distributed in sheep reared in Forli-Cesena district.
Since the epidemiological impact of waterborne transmission route of T.gondii to humans is now thought to be more significant than previously believed, the second aim of the thesis was to evaluate PCR based methods for detecting T. gondii DNA in raw and finished drinking water samples collected in Scotland. Samples were tested using a quantitative PCR on 529 bp repetitive elements. Only one raw water sample (0.3%), out of the 358 examined, tested T. gondii positive demonstrating that there is no evidence that tap water is a source of Toxoplasma infection in Scotland.
|Date||08 May 2014|
|Creators||Parigi, Maria <1984>|
|Publisher||Alma Mater Studiorum - Università di Bologna|
|Source Sets||Università di Bologna|
|Type||Doctoral Thesis, PeerReviewed|
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