The role of rodents and shrews in the transmission of Toxoplasma gondii to pigs

A. Kijlstra, B.G. Meerburg, J.B.W.J. Cornelissen, S. de Craeye, P.F.G. Vereijken, E. Jongert

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96 Citations (Scopus)


Inadequate rodent control is considered to play a role in Toxoplasma gondii infection of pigs. This issue was addressed in the current study by combining a 4-month rodent control campaign and a 7-month longitudinal analysis of T. gondii seroprevalence in slaughter pigs. Three organic pig farms with known rodent infestation were included in the study. On these farms, presence of T. gondii in trapped rodents was evaluated by real-time PCR. All rodent species and shrews investigated had T. gondii DNA in brain or heart tissue. Prevalence was 10.3% in Rattus norvegicus, 6.5% in Mus musculus, 14.3% in Apodemus sylvaticus and 13.6% in Crocidura russula. Initial T. gondii seroprevalence in the slaughter pigs ranged between 8% and 17% and dropped on the three farms during the rodent control campaign to 0¿10%, respectively. After 4 months of rodent control, T. gondii infection was absent from pigs from two of the three farms investigated and appeared again in one of those two farms after the rodent control campaign had stopped. This study emphasizes the role of rodents and shrews in the transmission of T. gondii to pigs and the importance of rodent control towards production of T. gondii-free pig meat. Keywords: T. gondii; Rodent control; Pigs; Parasite reservoir; Rattus norvegicus; Mus musculus; Apodemus sylvaticus; Crocidura russula
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)183-190
JournalVeterinary Parasitology
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - 2008


  • cats felis-catus
  • trichinella-spiralis
  • production systems
  • rattus-norvegicus
  • immune-responses
  • small mammals
  • wild mammals
  • swine farms
  • infection
  • seroprevalence

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