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Epidemiology and prevalence of Toxoplasma gondii infection in the Iberian hare (Lepus granatensis)

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Hares are important game species in Europe and their meat is consumed by humans. Toxoplasmosis is an important cause of mortality in hares in Nordic countries but little is known of Toxoplasma gondii infection in the Iberian hare (Lepus granatensis). Sera from 298 Iberian hares from Navarra (North Spain) were assayed for antibodies against T. gondii by the modified agglutination test. The samples were collected at necropsy during three consecutive years (2009–2011). Titers of 1:25 and higher were found in 34 hares (11.4%; CI95%: 7.8–14.9). Significant differences in seroprevalence were observed among geographical areas, years of sampling and age groups. The highest seroprevalence and the highest titers were observed in 2009, indicating fluctuating rates of transmission. Significantly higher seroprevalence was observed in the juvenile age group compared to the adult hare group. More than 40% of juvenile hares were seropositive the first year of study, seroprevalence drastically decreased in the juvenile animals sampled in the second year and was negligible in those sampled in the third year in this group. No clinical cases were detected in the study area and T. gondii was not detected by PCR in the liver of the 34 seropositive hares tested. These data may indicate that most juvenile seropositive hares did not survive as adults in the consecutive year or that there is a short-term humoral immune response against T. gondii in Iberian hares.
X. Fernández-Aguilar , V. Alzaga , D. Villanúa , O. Cabezón , I. García-Bocanegra , J. P. Dubey , S. Almería
USDA Scientist Submission
Veterinary parasitology 2013 Sept. 1 v.196 no.1-2
Elsevier Scientific Pub. Co.
Journal Articles, USDA Authors, Peer-Reviewed
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