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Incidence and prevalence of Toxoplasma gondii infection in women in France, 1980–2020: model-based estimation

  • F. NOGAREDA (a1) (a2), Y. LE STRAT (a1), I. VILLENA (a3), H. DE VALK (a1) and V. GOULET (a1)...


Toxoplasmosis is a worldwide zoonosis due to Toxoplasma gondii, a ubiquitous protozoan parasite of warm-blooded animals including humans. In pregnant women, primary infection can cause congenital toxoplasmosis resulting in severe malformations in the newborn. Since 1978, public health authorities in France have implemented a congenital toxoplasmosis prevention programme, including monthly serological screening of all seronegative pregnant women, and treatment in case of seroconversion. However, this programme does not produce systematic surveillance data on incidence and prevalence. Our objective was to estimate the incidence and prevalence of T. gondii infection, and the incidence of seroconversion during pregnancy in women in France. We used a catalytic model to estimate incidence and prevalence of Toxoplasma infection between 1980 and 2020 in women of childbearing age. We used age- and time-specific seroprevalence data obtained from the National Perinatal Surveys (NPS) conducted in 1995, 2003 and 2010. We assumed that incidence depends both on age and calendar time, and can be expressed as the product of two unknown functions. We also estimated incidence of seroconversion during pregnancy in 2010 from the NPS and the National Surveillance of Congenital Toxoplasmosis (ToxoSurv). We combined data of 42208 women aged 15–45 years with serology available from the three NPS. For women aged 30 years the modelled incidence decreased from 7·5/1000 susceptible women in 1980 to 3·5/1000 in 2000. In 2010 the incidence was 2·4/1000. The predicted incidence and prevalence for 2020 was 1·6/1000 and 27%, respectively. The incidence of seroconversion during pregnancy in 2010 was estimated at 2·1/1000 susceptible pregnant women (95% CI 1·3–3·1) from the NPS and 1·9 (95% CI 1·8–2·1) from ToxoSurv. Incidence and prevalence of Toxoplasma infection has decreased markedly during the last 30 years. This decrease may be explained by a lower exposure to the parasite by changes in food habits and by improved hygiene practices in meat production. Modelled estimations were consistent with estimates observed in other studies conducted previously in France. The catalytic modelling provides reliable estimates of incidence and prevalence of Toxoplasma infection over time. This approach might be useful for evaluating preventive programme for toxoplasmosis.

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Corresponding author

*Author for correspondence: Dr Y. Le Strat, Department of Infectious Diseases, French Institute for Public Health Surveillance, Saint-Maurice, France, 12 rue du Val d'Osne, 94415 Saint-Maurice cedex, France. (Email:


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