Genetic Characterization of Toxoplasma gondii Isolates and Toxoplasmosis Seroprevalence in Stray Cats of Izmir, Turkey

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Can H. , Döşkaya M. , Ajzenberg D., Ozdemır H. G. , Caner A. , Iz S. G. , ...More

PLOS ONE, vol.9, 2014 (Journal Indexed in SCI) identifier identifier identifier


Currently, some Toxoplasma gondii genotypes are being associated with serious clinical presentations. A recent report showing the Africa 1 genotype in two local congenital toxoplasmosis cases acquired in Turkey formed the basis of this study because atypical Africa 1 genotype is most frequently detected in animals and patients from sub-Saharan Africa. Since stray cats are considered as the linkage between wild life and urban life in T. gondii transmission, the present study aimed to isolate and characterize T. gondii strains circulating in stray cats of Izmir (Western Turkey). A secondary objective was to determine toxoplasmosis seroprevalence in this cat population. Tissues obtained from 100 deceased stray cats were bioassayed and isolated strains were genotyped using 15 microsatellite markers. In addition, toxoplasmosis seroprevalence was analyzed in 1121 cat sera collected from several large veterinary clinics in Izmir. Among the 22 isolates, 19 were Type II (86.3%), two were Type III (9%) and one was Africa 1 genotype (4.5%). The overall seropositivity rates in cats were 42-48% and 33.4-34.4% according to IFA and ELISA, respectively. Seroprevalence in deceased cats was significantly higher than in healthy cats (P = 0.0033). Finding both the major clonal Type II lineage together with the Type III lineage also found in Middle East, and an atypical genotype, Africa 1 appears consistent with the specific geographic location of Turkey between three continents and raises the possibility of transportation of these strains between continents through trade routes or long distance migratory birds. In addition, the first large study of toxoplasma seroprevalence in a stray cat population was also reported. The relatively high seropositivity rates and the variety of T. gondii genotypes confirm the local stray cat population as a risk factor for human toxoplasmosis in Izmir.