Toxoplasma gondii spreads in the habitat of the Iberian lynx

Apr 06, 2010
This is the Iberian Lynx (Lynx pardinus). Credit: Program Ex-situ Conservation of the Iberian lynx

An international team led by researchers from the University of Cordoba (UCO) has analysed seroprevalence (antibodies to a disease) of Toxoplasma Gondii, the parasite that causes toxoplasmosis in many species, including humans. This latest study reveals that the parasite is widespread in areas where the wild Iberian Lynx (Lynx pardinus) lives, and also in captive breeding centres. Scientists are now undertaking further research into the disease itself.

Wild felids are important for maintaining the sylvatic cycle of Toxoplasma gondii, but there is little information about the epidemiology and risk factors associated with in most of these animals. This is the case of the Iberian Lynx, the most endangered felid species in the world and the most endangered carnivore in Europe. While no cases of clinical toxoplasmosis have been reported in the Iberian Lynx, mortality associated to Toxoplasma gondii infection has been recorded in bobcats (Lynx rufus).

"Results reveal that Toxoplasma gondii are widespread among a large population of Iberian Lynx", the main author of the study and Animal Health researcher at the UCO Ignacio García Bocanegra told SINC.

The research, published at the beginning of this year in the scientific journal Veterinary Parasitology, also shows that four felids born in captivity had come into contact with the parasite during the period of study, from 2005 to 2009, which confirms the presence of T. gondii in captive breeding centres.

"For this reason, steps should be taken to prevent T. gondii infection in such centres," García Bocanegra warned. He advises analysing the rabbits to be used to feed the lynx first, as they are the main source of infection.

Record Number of Felids Analysed

This is not the first study to analyse the seroprevalence of in the Iberian Lynx, but it is the most complete. The researchers analysed 129 samples of using the modified agglutination test (detection of antibodies to T. gondii in serum samples) and found in 62.8%, that is, in 81 of the 129 felids analysed.

Apart from ascertaining that the seroprevalence of T. gondii increases as animals age, results also reveal similar levels of seroprevalence among both free-ranging (66.7% of 93) and wild-caught captive Lynx (69% of 84). However, seroprevalence "was lower in captive-born Lynx (22.5% of 40)", the researcher underlined.

The study also reported a relationship between Cytauxzoon felis infection and seroprevalence of T. gondii, but "Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV) infection was not seen to influence T. gondii seroprevalence (53.8% of 13)", the researcher states.

The team found no significant differences in seroprevalence between sexes, geographic region or the year of sample collection.

A Disease that Affects Warm-blooded Species

is a zoonotic disease that above all affects warm-blooded species, including humans. The final hosts of this parasite are cats, the only animals capable of fecally excreting the .

However, researchers did not find these parasites in the feces of "any of the 58 analysed", García Bocanegra stated.

Explore further: Zimbabwe to export elephants in population curb

More information: García-Bocanegra, I; Dubey, J.P.; Martínez, F.; Vargas, A.; Cabezón, O.; Zorrilla, I.; Arenas, A.; Almería, S. "Factors affecting seroprevalence of Toxoplasma gondii in the endangered Iberian lynx (Lynx pardinus)" Veterinary Parasitology 167(1): 36-42, 20 de enero de 2010.

Provided by FECYT - Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology

not rated yet
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

How Toxoplasma gondii gets noticed

Jan 19, 2009

Researchers provide insight into how Toxoplasma gondii, a common parasite of people and other animals, triggers an immune response in its host. The report will appear online on January 19th in The Journal of Experimental Medicine. ...

Britain may reintroduce wolf and lynx

Dec 01, 2007

A British wildlife group says wolf, lynx, beaver and wild boar could be brought back to live in the wild without posing a threat to people or the environment.

Recommended for you

Wildlife groups seek help for California owl

Dec 24, 2014

Loggers cutting down forests burned in wildfires could bring about the extinction of California spotted owls, wildlife advocates said Tuesday as they sought protection for the birds under the federal Endangered ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.