Prevalence of Toxoplasma gondii and Potentially Zoonotic Helminths in Wild Boars (Sus scrofa) Hunted in Central Italy

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Abstract

Our aim was to evaluate the risk of human toxoplasmosis via meat consumption from wild boars by estimating the seroprevalence of Toxoplasma gondii in animals hunted in central Italy. Using a modified agglutination test, 213 sera from wild boars were examined for anti-Toxoplasma IgG antibodies. Diaphragm samples (n=65) from seropositive and seronegative animals were tested by nested-PCR to detect T. gondii DNA. Toxoplasma DNA from diaphragms was genotyped by PCR-RFLP using 12 genetic markers. Moreover, the aim of the study was also to identify helminth infections of wild boars in the selected area and to evaluate their hazard for humans. Examination of sera revealed a seroprevalence of 12.2%. Only one T. gondii strain could be genotyped from a seropositive animal and PCR-RFLP revealed that it belonged to type II. Analysis of 50 samples of faeces and 32 small intestines revealed that 78% and 15.6% of the samples harboured parasites, respectively, with the occurrence of parasites potentially dangerous for humans. These latter included Ascaris suum, Macracanthorhynchus hirudinaceus, Trichuris suis, and Metastrongylus spp. A significant association was found between coprological positivity and male sex. These results indicate that T. gondii infection may be present in wild boar tissues and consumption of undercooked or raw wild boar meat may expose humans to risk of toxoplasmosis in the study area. Furthermore, the study highlights that wild boars are hosts of helminths of veterinary and medical importance transmissible to pigs and humans.

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