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Anatomical distribution of Toxoplasma gondii in naturally and experimentally infected lambs

Abstract : Consumption of raw or undercooked meat containing Toxoplasma gondii tissue cysts is one of the main sources of infection for humans worldwide. Among the various species intended for human consumption, sheep appear to be a high risk for human infection. The present study focused on the detailed anatomical distribution of Toxoplasma gondii in naturally and experimentally infected lambs using fresh and frozen samples of various pieces of meat, from a public health perspective. The first objective was to rank the edible parts intended for human consumption according to the detectable parasite burden by real-time PCR targeting the 529-bp repeated element. The second objective was to evaluate the impact of freezing by comparing the detection efficiency of the quantitative PCR between fresh and frozen tissues, as imports of lamb carcasses/cuts may arrive frozen or chilled. The highest estimated parasite loads were observed in skeletal muscles, and more particularly in edible portions such as quadriceps femoris muscle, intercostal muscles, deltoid muscle and diaphragm, with a significant difference in detectable parasite burden between fresh and frozen samples ( p < 0.0001) or natural and experimental infection ( p < 0.0001). Thoracic and pelvic limbs (3278–1048 parasites/g muscle) were ranked at the top of the list. Toxoplasma gondii DNA was detected in all the edible parts of lamb studied. These results suggest that lamb meat represents a risk for consumers. Further investigations are needed in order to confirm these differences in larger numbers of animals and in different breeds.
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Submitted on : Wednesday, February 16, 2022 - 12:22:11 PM
Last modification on : Saturday, May 28, 2022 - 3:07:53 AM
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Myriam Thomas, Dominique Aubert, Sandie Escotte-Binet, Benoît Durand, Céline Robert, et al.. Anatomical distribution of Toxoplasma gondii in naturally and experimentally infected lambs. Parasite, EDP Sciences, 2022, 29, pp.3. ⟨10.1051/parasite/2022001⟩. ⟨anses-03576845⟩

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