Toxoplasmosis, caused by the protozoan parasite Toxoplasma gondii, is one of the most common zoonosis worldwide, affecting a wide range of warm-blooded mammals and birds worldwide. However, no information on T. gondii infection in pet birds in China is available. Therefore, this study was performed to determine the prevalence of T. gondii infection in pet birds in Gansu province, China.
A total of 687 blood samples were collected from pet birds (Carduelis spinus, Alauda gulgula, Cocothraustes migratorlus) in three representative administrative regions in Gansu province, northwest China between August 2011 and September 2012 T. gondii antibodies were determined using the modified agglutination test (MAT). Genomic DNA was extracted from the brain tissues of seropositive pet birds and T. gondii B1 gene was amplified using a semi-nested PCR.DNA samples giving positive B1 amplification were then genetically characterized using multi-locus PCR-RFLP.
The overall T. gondii seroprevalence was 11.21% (77/687). C. spinus had the highest T. gondii seroprevalence (11.65%), followed by A. arvensis (11.39%) and C. migratorlus (5.26%), these differences were not statistically significant (P > 0.05). Of 77 DNA samples, 8 were positive for the T. gondii B1 gene, four showed complete genotyping results. Only one genotype (the Type II variant: ToxoDB genotype #3) was identified.
The results of the present survey indicated the presence of T. gondii infection in pet birds in Gansu province, China. These data provide base-line information for the execution of control strategies against T. gondii infection in pet birds. To our knowledge, this is the first report documenting the occurrence of T. gondii prevalence and genotype in pet birds in China.