Toxoplasma gondii is a protozoan parasite that infects various mammals and birds. This parasite is considered zoonotic because it can be transferred from animals to humans through contact with infected feces or eating undercooked infected meat. When cat feces containing oocysts are accidentally ingested by other animals, the parasite encysts in the muscle of the new host, but will not be able to enter the environment and infect other animals in this stage. Therefore, cats are essential in the life cycle of T. gondii because they allow this parasite to spread to other animals in the absence of a direct trophic interaction. For this reason, I chose to use cats as a model to measure the prevalence of this parasite in Tom Green County. I coordinated with four different veterinary offices in the county to collect the remains of blood samples taken in their practices for clinical tests. Using an ELISA, I will test the blood samples to determine if they have antibodies against T. gondii, thus suggesting that they were or are currently infected. Similar surveys have been done in various locations of the United States as well as in foreign countries. I am interested in seeing how the animal’s sex, age, gender, location in the county, and whether it is feral or domestic will impact my results.
Use of ELISA to test seroprevalence of Toxoplasma gondii in cats of Tom Green County
Faculty Mentor Name
Dr. Nicholas Negovetich
Undergraduate Research Grant
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