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Amanda Weaver

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.

Project Title

Use of ELISA to test seroprevalence of Toxoplasma gondii in cats of Tom Green County

Faculty Mentor Name

Dr. Nicholas Negovetich

Sponsorship

Undergraduate Research Grant

References

1. Webster, J.P., Kaushik, M., Bristow, G.C., and McConkey, G.A. “Toxoplasma gondii infection, from predation to schizophrenia: can animal behavior help us understand human behavior?” Journal of Experimental Biology. 216, 99-112. 2013. 2. Center for Disease Control and Prevention. “Parasites- Toxoplasma infection.” http://www.cdc.gov/parasites/toxoplasmosis/disease.html. 3. Vollaire, M.R., Radecki, S.V., and Lappin, M.R. “Seroprevalence of Toxoplasma gondii antibodies in clinically ill cats in the United States.” American Journal of Veterinary Research. 66, 874-877. 4. Nutter, F.B., Dubey, J.P., Levine, J.F., Breitshwerdt, E.B., Ford, R.B., and Stoskopf, M.K. “Seroprevalences of antibodies against Bartonella hensalae and Toxoplasma gondii and fecal shedding of Cryptosporidium spp, Giardia spp, and Toxocara cati in feral and pet domestic cats.” Journal of American Veterinary Medical Association. 225, 1394-1398. 5. Dubey, J.P., Bhatia, C.R., Lappin, M.R., Ferreira, L.R., Thorn, A., and Kwok, O.C.H. “Seroprevalence of Toxoplasma gondii and Bartonella spp. Antibodies in cats from Pennsylvania.” Journal of Parasitology. 95, 578-580. 2009. 6. Elmore, S.A., Jones, J.L., Conrad, P.A., Patton, S., Lindsay, D.S., and Dubey, J.P. “Toxoplasma gondii: epidemiology, feline clinical aspects, and prevention.” Cell Press. 26, 190-196. April 2010. 7. Al-Kappany, Y.M., Rajendran, C., Ferreira, L.R., Kwok, O.C.H, Abu-Elwafa, S.A., Hilali, M., and Dubey, J.P. “High prevalence of Toxoplasmosis in cats from Egypt: isolation of viable Toxoplasma gondii, tissue distribution, and isolate designation. Journal of Parasitology. 96, 1115-1118. 2010. 8. Haddadzadeh, H.R., Khazraiinia, P., Aslani, M., Rezaeian, M., Jamshidi, S., Taheri, M., and Bahonar, A. “Seroprevalence of Toxoplasma gondii in stray and household cats in Tehran.” Veterinary Parasitology. 138, 211-216. 9. Castillo-Morales, V.J., Viana, K.Y.A., Guzman-Marin, E.S., Jimenez-Coello, M., Segura-Correa, J.C., Aguilar-Caballero, A.J., and Ortego-Pacheco, A. “Prevalence and Risk Factors of Toxoplasma gondii Infection in Domestic Cats from the Tropics of Mexico Using Serological and Molecular Tests.” Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Infectious Diseases. 2012, Article ID 529108. 10. Montoya, J.G. “Laboratory Diagnosis of Toxoplasma gondii Infection and Toxoplasmosis.” Journal of Infectious Diseases. 185, 573-582. 2002.