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Predictors of Toxoplasma gondii infection in Czech and Slovak populations: the possible role of cat-related injuries and risky sexual behavior in the parasite transmission

  • J. FLEGR (a1) (a2)
Summary

The protozoan Toxoplasma gondii infects about one-third of the world's population. The consumption of raw meat, contact with cats, contact with soil, and ingestion of food or water contaminated with soil are considered to be the most important sources of infection. Still in most women who were infected during pregnancy, no definitive source of infection is found. In 2014–2016, independent sources of T. gondii infection were searched for by gathering epidemiological data from 1865 (519 infected) responders. Touching garden soil (odds ratio (OR) 3·14, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1·3–6·35), sustaining cat-related injuries (OR 2·16, 95% CI 1·25–3·74), and eating improperly washed root vegetables (OR 1·71, 95% CI 1·02–2·87), but not risky sexual behavior (OR 1·22, 95% CI 0·79–1·90), were the predictors of infection. The seroprevalence of T. gondii infection had been increasing up to ages 35–50 in men and ages 50–54 in women. Past those ages, seroprevalence of toxoplasmosis has been decreasing. This suggests that the natural decrease of anamnestic antibodies concentrations over time leads to positivity-to-negativity seroconversion in many subjects. If this is true, then the prevalence of T. gondii infection in a general population and its potential impacts on public health could be much larger than generally believed.

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Corresponding author
*Author for correspondence: J. Flegr, Division of Biology, Faculty of Science, Charles University in Prague, Prague, Viničná 7, 128 44, Czech Republic and National Institute of Mental Health, Klecany 250 67, Czech Republic. (Email: flegr@cesnet.cz)
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