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Variation in Toxoplasma gondii seroprevalence: effects of site, sex, species and behaviour between insular and mainland macropods

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Taggart, P. L., Fancourt, B. A., Peacock, D., Caraguel, C. G. B. and McAllister, M. M. (2020) Variation in Toxoplasma gondii seroprevalence: effects of site, sex, species and behaviour between insular and mainland macropods. Wildlife Research, 47 (8). pp. 540-546.

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Article Link(s): https://doi.org/10.1071/WR19041

Publisher URL: https://www.publish.csiro.au/paper/WR19041

Abstract

Context: Feral cats threaten wildlife conservation through a range of direct and indirect effects. However, most studies that have evaluated the impacts of feral cats on species of conservation significance have focussed on direct impacts such as predation; few studies have considered the indirect impacts of cat-borne disease. Toxoplasma gondii, a cat-borne parasite, causes both acute and latent disease in a range of wildlife species, and macropods are particularly susceptible. Kangaroo Island is Australia’s third largest island and supports a high density of feral cats and high seroprevalence of T. gondii in multiple species, relative to the mainland. This suggests that Kangaroo Island has a high environmental contamination with the parasite and a high risk of infection for other species.Aims: We aimed to describe T. gondii seroprevalence in culled and road-killed macropods, so as to assess the effects of island versus mainland location, sex, species and behaviour.Methods: Macropod sera were tested for T. gondii IgG antibodies using a commercially available modified agglutination test.Key results: The seroprevalence of T. gondii in culled western grey kangaroos (Macropus fuliginosus) was significantly higher on the island (20%, 11/54 positive) than on the mainland (0%, 0/61 positive). There was no difference in T. gondii seroprevalence between culled and road-killed (21%, 21/102 positive) kangaroos from the island. The seroprevalence of T. gondii was significantly higher in female (32%, 12/38 positive) than in male (13%, 8/60 positive) kangaroos, but we observed no sex effect in tammar wallabies (Macropus eugenii), and no effect of species.Conclusions: The higher T. gondii seroprevalence in insular macropods supports previous reports of higher T. gondii exposure in other Kangaroo Island fauna. The lack of difference in T. gondii seroprevalence between culled and road-killed kangaroos suggests that T. gondii-positive animals are not more vulnerable to road mortality, in contrast to that suggested previously.Implications: Our findings suggest greater potential adverse conservation impacts owing to toxoplasmosis on the island than on the mainland. In light of a recent study demonstrating higher cat abundance on the island than on the mainland, the higher observed T. gondii seroprevalence in insular macropods is likely to be a consequence of higher cat density.

Item Type:Article
Business groups:Biosecurity Queensland
Keywords:carcass, feline, Felis catus, latent, marsupial, toxoplasmosis.
Subjects:Science > Zoology > Chordates. Vertebrates > Mammals > Marsupialia. Marsupials
Animal culture > Small animal culture
Veterinary medicine > Communicable diseases of animals (General)
Veterinary medicine > Veterinary parasitology
Deposited On:17 Nov 2020 00:18
Last Modified:17 Nov 2020 00:18

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