Occurrence of anti Toxoplasma antibodies in owned dogs from Italy: a retrospective study.
Toxoplasma infection in human patients is still an important problem in Italy. Dogs seem to have a role in the epidemiology of human toxoplasmosis, being their presence associated with increased seroprevalence to Toxoplasma gondii in humans. Dogs can act as intermediate hosts of this parasite being able to harbor tissue cysts, but this way their reservoir importance for human infection is negligible. Their impact on human health could be due to their role in contaminating the household environment, so permitting the exposure to T. gondii the inhabitants. Serum samples of N. 1811 owned dogs randomly collected were examined by IFAT for antibodies against T. gondii. One hundred ninety two sera out of 1811 (10.6%) scored positive, with titers ranging from 1/20 to 1/640. Seroprevalence was significantly (P< 0.01) higher in adult than in juvenile dogs. On the contrary, it not significantly differed with regards to gender and feeding habits. This is the first report of occurrence of antibodies in an extensive specimen of dogs in Italy. The results of the present survey would indicate a relatively high occurrence of antibodies against T. gondii among owned dogs in the investigated area, confirming that attention should be paid in the management of this domestic species.