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Diseases of Aquatic Organisms

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DAO 127:65-69 (2017)  -  DOI:

Investigating seagrass in Toxoplasma gondii transmission in Florida (Trichechus manatus latirostris) and Antillean (T. m. manatus) manatees

Heidi M. Wyrosdick1,2,*, Richard Gerhold2, Chunlei Su3, Antonio A. Mignucci-Giannoni4, Robert K. Bonde5, Alycia Chapman2, Carla I. Rivera-Pérez4, Jessica Martinez1,2, Debra L. Miller1,2 

1University of Tennessee, Center for Wildlife Health, Department of Forestry, Wildlife, and Fisheries, Knoxville, TN 37996, USA
2University of Tennessee, Department of Biomedical and Diagnostic Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Knoxville, TN 37996, USA
3University of Tennessee, Department of Microbiology, Knoxville, TN 37996, USA
4Interamerican University of Puerto Rico, Puerto Rico Manatee Conservation Center, Bayamon 00957, Puerto Rico
5US Geological Survey, Wetland and Aquatic Research Center, Gainesville, FL 32653, USA
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Toxoplasma gondii is a feline protozoan reported to cause morbidity and mortality in manatees and other marine mammals. Given the herbivorous nature of manatees, ingestion of oocysts from contaminated water or seagrass is presumed to be their primary mode of infection. The objectives of this study were to investigate oocyst contamination of seagrass beds in Puerto Rico and determine the seroprevalence of T. gondii in Antillean (Trichechus manatus manatus) and Florida (T. m. latirostris) manatees. Sera or plasma from Antillean (n = 5) and Florida (n = 351) manatees were tested for T. gondii antibodies using the modified agglutination test. No T. gondii DNA was detected via PCR in seagrass samples (n = 33) collected from Puerto Rico. Seroprevalence was 0%, suggesting a lower prevalence of T. gondii in these manatee populations than previously reported. This was the first study to investigate the potential oocyst contamination of the manatee diet, and similar studies are important for understanding the epidemiology of T. gondii in herbivorous marine mammals.

KEY WORDS: Toxoplasma · Toxoplasmosis · Sirenia · Oocyst

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Cite this article as: Wyrosdick HM, Gerhold R, Su C, Mignucci-Giannoni AA and others (2017) Investigating seagrass in Toxoplasma gondii transmission in Florida (Trichechus manatus latirostris) and Antillean (T. m. manatus) manatees. Dis Aquat Org 127:65-69.

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