Cross-sectional survey in pig breeding farms in Hesse, Germany: seroprevalence and risk factors of infections with Toxoplasma gondii, Sarcocystis spp. and Neospora caninum in sows

I.M. Damriyasa, C. Bauer, R. Edelhofer, K. Failing, Peter Lind, E. Petersen, G. Schares, A.M. Tenter, R. Volmer, H. Zahner

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    A cross-sectional survey was performed to estimate the prevalences of antibodies to Toxoplasma gondii (ELISA, IFAT), Sarcocystis spp. (ELISA, using S. miescheriana as antigen) and Neospora caninum (ELISA, immunoblotting) in sows from breeding farms in southern Hesse, Germany. A total of 2041 plasma samples of sows from 94 randomly selected farms was examined. Data on farm profiles, husbandry management and sows were collected by a questionnaire and exploratively analysed. For T. gondii the ELISA results agreed well with the results obtained by IFAT (kappa = 0.71). Antibodies to T. gondii were detected by ELISA in 19% of the sows. Sixty-nine percent of the farms had at least one seropositive sow, and a within-farm seroprevalence of greater than or equal to50% was observed in 14% of all farms. The prevalence of anti-T. gondii antibodies was positively correlated with the age of sows. The within-herd seroprevalence was significantly higher in farms with reproductive disorders than in those without such problems. On the farm level, the farm type 'piglet production' (versus 'pedigree breeding' or 'farrow-to-finish') was the only risk factor associated with the presence of T. gondii-seropositive sows. Antibodies to Sarcocystis spp. were found in 29% of the sows. Seventy-two percent of the farms harboured at least one seropositive sow, and a within-farm seroprevalence of greater than or equal to50% was detected in 23% of all farms. The seroprevalence increased significantly with the age of sows. On the farm level, only the farm type `piglet production' (versus 'pedigree breeding') and the replacement of sows by purchasing (versus raising on the own farm) were identified as risk factors for seropositivity. Antibodies to N. caninum were detected in one sow using both the screening ELISA and the confirmatory immunoblotting technique. This may indicate the first natural N. caninum infection in pigs.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalVeterinary Parasitology
    Issue number3
    Pages (from-to)271-286
    Publication statusPublished - 2004


    • Neospora caninum
    • Toxoplasma gondii
    • epidemiology
    • Sarcocystis
    • Germany
    • risk factors
    • pig protozoa

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