A longitudinal study of Toxoplasma gondii seroconversion on four large Danish sow farms

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Serological tests are routinely used to detect Toxoplasma gondii specific IgG antibodies in serum. Serological surveys of T. gondii show a medium to high prevalence in Danish indoor sows at the time of slaughter. However, little is known about when sows acquire T. gondii, and for how long they remain seropositive. Our focus was on quantifying the incidence rates in different age-cohorts and on investigating the T. gondii IgG antibody dynamics in sows. Four large Danish sow farms were longitudinally surveyed for 1 year. A total of 320 animals from 6, 12, 18, and 24-months age-cohorts were sampled at 5-week intervals. In total, 2989 plasma samples were tested using commercial enzyme linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). The incidence rate in each of the four age-cohorts was calculated, and a time-to-event analysis was applied to the interval censored data to investigate the relationship between age and probability of T. gondii seroconversion. In the initial ELISA testing, eight sows tested positive for T. gondii at first survey, of which seven remained seropositive throughout the follow-up period. Additionally, 16 sows seroconverted, but only five of these remained seropositive. Weekly incidence rates in the 6, 12, 18, and 24-month age-cohorts were 0.0017 (95% CI = 0.0008 - 0.0037), 0.0009 (95% CI = 0.0003 - 0.0027), 0.0003 (95% CI = 0.0000 - 0.0018), and 0.0023 (95% CI = 0.0010 - 0.0051), respectively. Time-to-event analysis suggested that the incidence rate increased with age but could not conclude this definitively. The retesting of a subsample of the sows (n = 200) with the same ELISA and with modified direct agglutination test (MAT), and western blot (WB) assays suggested that 12 out of the 24 initial ELISA seropositive sows may have been false positive. These 12 sows also showed fluctuating antibody dynamics in ELISA. Hence, the unstable antibody dynamics in ELISA may pose a challenge for serological surveys of T. gondii in sows.

Original languageEnglish
Article number109460
JournalVeterinary Parasitology
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 2021

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Copyright © 2021 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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