Research Article

Detection of Toxoplasma gondii DNA in naturally infected sheep’s milk

Abstract

The objective of this study was to verify whether Toxoplasma gondii is excreted in the milk of naturally infected sheep. In order to accomplish this, 275 lactating ewes were used; these were bred extensively in 17 estates distributed across nine cities. Polymerase chain reaction amplification was used to detect T. gondii DNA in milk samples, and the indirect immunofluorescence test was employed for the detection of anti-T. gondii IgG antibodies in the sera, with a cut-off value of 1:64. It was possible to verify the presence of the parasite DNA in 6.5% (18/275) of the studied animals. Anti-T. gondii antibodies were present in 41.5% of the animals studied (114/275). There was no correlation between parasite excretion in milk and the presence of IgG in 38.9% of the studied animals (7/18). The high seropositivity and the presence of parasite DNA in the milk led to the conclusion that T. gondii infection is present in the sheep population in southern and southwestern Bahia, and that there is a risk of the human population becoming infected due to the consumption of raw, in natura milk.

The objective of this study was to verify whether Toxoplasma gondii is excreted in the milk of naturally infected sheep. In order to accomplish this, 275 lactating ewes were used; these were bred extensively in 17 estates distributed across nine cities. Polymerase chain reaction amplification was used to detect T. gondii DNA in milk samples, and the indirect immunofluorescence test was employed for the detection of anti-T. gondii IgG antibodies in the sera, with a cut-off value of 1:64. It was possible to verify the presence of the parasite DNA in 6.5% (18/275) of the studied animals. Anti-T. gondii antibodies were present in 41.5% of the animals studied (114/275). There was no correlation between parasite excretion in milk and the presence of IgG in 38.9% of the studied animals (7/18). The high seropositivity and the presence of parasite DNA in the milk led to the conclusion that T. gondii infection is present in the sheep population in southern and southwestern Bahia, and that there is a risk of the human population becoming infected due to the consumption of raw, in natura milk.