Epidemiology and Infection

Protozoa

Decreased prevalence and age-specific risk factors for Toxoplasma gondii IgG antibodies in The Netherlands between 1995/1996 and 2006/2007

A. HOFHUISa1, W. VAN PELTa1, Y. T. H. P. VAN DUYNHOVENa2, C. D. M. NIJHUISa3, L. MOLLEMAa1, F. R. M. VAN DER KLISa3, A. H. HAVELAARa2a4 and L. M. KORTBEEKa3 c1

a1 Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit, National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM), Bilthoven, The Netherlands

a2 Laboratory for Zoonoses and Environmental Microbiology, National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM), Bilthoven, The Netherlands

a3 Laboratory for Infectious Diseases and Perinatal Screening, Centre for Infectious Disease Control Netherlands, National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM), Bilthoven, The Netherlands

a4 Division of Veterinary Public Health, Institute for Risk Assessment Sciences Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands

SUMMARY

To estimate the change in the seroprevalence and risk factors for toxoplasmosis in The Netherlands, a study was conducted in the general population in 2006/2007, similarly designed as a previous study in 1995/1996. Testing 5541 sera for IgG antibodies against Toxoplasma gondii showed a marked decrease of the overall seroprevalence to 26·0% [95% confidence interval (CI) 24·0–28·0], compared to 40·5% (95% CI 37·5–43·4) in 1995/1996. In women of reproductive age the seroprevalence decreased from 35·2% (95% CI 32·9–38·6) in 1995/1996 to 18·5% (95% CI 16·2–20·7) in 2006/2007, leaving the majority of pregnant women susceptible to primary infection with T. gondii and their babies to congenital toxoplasmosis. In participants aged ≥20 years, Toxoplasma seropositivity was associated with living in the Northwest, living in urban areas, low educational level, consumption of raw pork, keeping a cat, and not having occupational contact with clients or patients. For younger participants, risk factors were keeping sheep or cattle, consumption of raw unwashed vegetables and putting sand in the mouth.

(Accepted April 20 2010)

(Online publication May 24 2010)

Correspondence:

c1 Author for correspondence: Drs. L. M. Kortbeek, National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, Center for Infectious Disease Control, PO Box 1, 3720 BA Bilthoven, The Netherlands. (Email: Titia.Kortbeek@rivm.nl)

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