Intermediate and Transport Hosts of Toxoplasma Gondii in Costa Rica

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  • Cátedra de Patoligía, Hospital Mexico, Facultad de Medicina, Universidad de Costa Rica, Department of Pathology and Oncology, University of Kansas Medical Center, San José, Costa Rica
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Toxoplasma gondii was isolated from 3.5% of 202 Mus musculus, 12.5% of 120 Rattus norvegicus, 16% of 106 sparrows (Zonotrichia capensis), and from 54% of 50 chickens from Costa Rica. The infection rate in chickens increased from 23% in those weighing less than 500 g, to 73% in those between 500 and 1,000 g, indicating a rapid rate of acquiring infection, probably from the soil in which they constantly search for food. No isolates were made from Musca domestica, or from four genera of roaches caught in the wild. However, Toxoplasma was isolated from four of 16 lots of earthworms. Most strains of Toxoplasma isolated from Costa Rican cats produced chronic latent infections in mice. However, even when infected with virulent strains, mice died at a time when numerous bradyzoites had been formed. Also, the availability of bradyzoites in chickens 8–10 days after ingestion of oocysts was comparable to that in mice. Therefore, several infected prey species are available as intermediate hosts to cats, providing the bradyzoites essential for the shedding of large numbers of oocysts. The isolation of Toxoplasma from earthworms or the soil associated with them illustrates their possible role as transport hosts to infect chickens and other birds feeding on them. The possible role of other transport hosts could not be confirmed.