Spatial epidemiology of Toxoplasma gondii infection in goats in Serbia

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Vitomir Djokić
Ivana Klun
Vincenzo Musella
Laura Rinaldi
Giuseppe Cringoli
Smaragda Sotiraki
Olgica Djurković-Djaković *
(*) Corresponding Author:
Olgica Djurković-Djaković | olgicadj@imi.bg.ac.rs

Abstract

A major risk factor for Toxoplasma gondii infection is consumption of undercooked meat. Increasing demand for goat meat is likely to promote the role of this animal for human toxoplasmosis. As there are virtually no data on toxoplasmosis in goats in Serbia, we undertook a cross-sectional serological study, including prediction modelling using geographical information systems (GIS). Sera from 431 goats reared in 143 households/farms throughout Serbia, sampled between January 2010 and September 2011, were examined for T. gondii antibodies by a modified agglutination test. Seroprevalence was 73.3% at the individual level and 84.6% at the farm level. Risk factor analysis showed above two-fold higher risk of infection for goats used for all purposes compared to dairy goats (P = 0.012), almost seven-fold higher risk for goats kept as sole species versus those kept with other animals (P = 0.001) and a two-fold lower risk for goats introduced from outside the farm compared to those raised on the farm (P = 0.027). Moreover, households/farms located in centre-eastern Serbia were found to be less often infected than those in northern Serbia (P = 0.004). The risk factor analysis was fully supported by spatial analysis based on a GIS database containing data on origin, serology, land cover, elevation, meteorology and a spatial prediction map based on kriging analysis, which showed western Serbia as the area most likely for finding goats positive for T. gondii and centre-eastern Serbia as the least likely. In addition, rainfall favoured seropositivity, whereas temperature, humidity and elevation did not.

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