Original Research

Seroprevalence of toxoplasmosis in sheep in South Africa

N. Abu Samraa, C.M.E. McCrindle, B.L. Penzhorn, B. Cenci-Goga
Journal of the South African Veterinary Association | Vol 78, No 3 | a301 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/jsava.v78i3.301 | © 2007 N. Abu Samraa, C.M.E. McCrindle, B.L. Penzhorn, B. Cenci-Goga | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 04 June 2007 | Published: 04 June 2007

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N. Abu Samraa,
C.M.E. McCrindle,
B.L. Penzhorn,
B. Cenci-Goga,

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Serum samples from 600 sheep were collected from 5 different provinces randomly chosen in South Africa. Two sheep abattoirs (representing formal slaughter of sheep) and 1 rural location (representing informal slaughter of sheep) per province were also selected randomly. The serum samples were tested for anti-Toxoplasma gondii IgG antibodies using 2 different serological tests : an indirect fluorescent antibody (IFA) test and an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) test available as a commercial kit. This study provides the first published data on seroprevalence of toxoplasmosis in sheep in South Africa, although positive titres have been found previously in wild felids, ferrets, chinchillas and a dog. Data on seroprevalence in sheep is considered important because consumption of mutton is universally considered to be a source of zoonotic transfer to humans. Seroprevalence in humans in South Africa was previously found to be 20% and it is postulated that this may be linked to the informal slaughter and consumption of mutton. During this study, the overall national seroprevalence per province in sheep was found to be 5.6 % (IFA) and 4.3 % (ELISA), respectively. This is lower than in other countries, possibly because South Africa has an arid climate. Differences in seroprevalence in different areas studied suggested an association with the climate and a significant correlation (P > 0.05) was detected between the prevalence of T. gondii and the minimum average temperature. The seroprevalence was found to be significantly higher (P < 0.01) in sheep originating from commercial farms (7.9 %) than in rural sheep in the informal sector (3.4 %). Also, sheep managed extensively had a seroprevalence of 1.8 %, which was significantly lower (P < 0.05) than the seroprevalence in sheep under semi-intensive or intensive management systems (5.3 %). An incidental finding of interest was the considerable movement of sheep to abattoirs and mutton after slaughter. The highest consumption of mutton was in the Western Cape Province (29.9 %) while the highest concentration of sheep is found in the Eastern Cape Province (30.1 %).


Seroprevalence; Sheep; Toxoplasmosis; Veterinary Public Health


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