a1 Animal Parasitic Diseases Laboratory, Animal and Natural Resources Institute, Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture Building 1044, BARC-East, 10300 Baltimore Avenue, Beltsville, MD 20705-2350, USA
Toxoplasma gondii is a coccidian parasite which utilizes felids as definitive hosts, and which has an unusually wide intermediate host range. The parasite was initially described by Nicolle and Manceaux in 1908 from the rodent, Ctenodactylus gundi. Infection with T. gondii is one of the most common parasitic infections of man and other warm-blooded animals. It has been found worldwide from Alaska to Australia. Nearly one-third of humanity has been exposed to this parasite; serologic surveys indicate that T. gondii infections are common in wild carnivores, including pigs, bears, felids, fox, raccoons, and skunks. Clinical and subclinical toxoplasmosis has been reported from wild cervids, ungulates, marsupials, monkeys, and marine mammals. Southern sea otter populations have been severely impacted by Toxoplasma infections.
(Received November 05 2004)
(Accepted January 13 2005)