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Toxoplasmosis in prey species and consequences for prevalence in feral cats: not all prey species are equal

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  03 August 2007

E. AFONSO*
Affiliation:
Université de Lyon; Université Lyon 1; CNRS; UMR 5558, Laboratoire de Biométrie et Biologie Evolutive, 43 boulevard du 11 novembre 1918, Villeurbanne F-69622, France 2C2A – CERFE, 08240 Boult-aux-Bois, France Laboratoire de Parasitologie – Mycologie, EA 3800, UFR Médecine, Université de Reims Champagne-Ardenne, 51 rue Cognacq Jay, Hôpital Maison Blanche, 51096 Reims cedex, France
P. THULLIEZ
Affiliation:
Laboratoire de la Toxoplasmose, Institut de Puériculture et de Périnatalogie, 26 boulevard Brune, 75014 Paris, France
D. PONTIER
Affiliation:
Université de Lyon; Université Lyon 1; CNRS; UMR 5558, Laboratoire de Biométrie et Biologie Evolutive, 43 boulevard du 11 novembre 1918, Villeurbanne F-69622, France
E. GILOT-FROMONT
Affiliation:
Université de Lyon; Université Lyon 1; CNRS; UMR 5558, Laboratoire de Biométrie et Biologie Evolutive, 43 boulevard du 11 novembre 1918, Villeurbanne F-69622, France
*
*Corresponding author: Université de Lyon; Université Lyon 1; CNRS; UMR 5558, Laboratoire de Biométrie et Biologie Evolutive, 43 boulevard du 11 novembre 1918, Villeurbanne F-69622, France. Tel: +33 4 72 43 35 84. E-mail: afonso@biomserv.univ-lyon1.fr

Summary

Toxoplasma gondii is largely transmitted to definitive felid hosts through predation. Not all prey species represent identical risks of infection for cats because of differences in prey susceptibility, exposure and/or lifespan. Previously published studies have shown that prevalence in rodent and lagomorph species is positively correlated with body mass. We tested the hypothesis that different prey species have different infection risks by comparing infection dynamics of feral cats at 4 sites in the sub-Antarctic Kerguelen archipelago which differed in prey availability. Cats were trapped from 1994 to 2004 and anti-T. gondii IgG antibodies were detected using the modified agglutination test (⩾1:40). Overall seroprevalence was 51·09%. Antibody prevalence differed between sites, depending on diet and also on sex, after taking into account the effect of age. Males were more often infected than females and the difference between the sexes tended to be more pronounced in the site where more prey species were available. A difference in predation efficiency between male and female cats may explain this result. Overall, our results suggest that the composition of prey items in cat diet influences the risk of T. gondii infection. Prey compositon should therefore be considered important in any understanding of infection dynamics of T. gondii.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2007

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