Seroepidemiological Survey of Toxoplasmosis in La Guadeloupe, French West Indies

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  • Institut Pasteur de la Guyane Française, Department of Parasitology and Mycology, Unité INSERM 165, French Guiana, France

A random survey of 1% of the total population of La Guadeloupe, French West Indies, for toxoplasmosis was carried out. Blood specimens from 3,238 individuals were collected on filter paper strips and tested for Toxoplasma antibodies by the fluorescent antibody technique. Sixty percent were positive. A gradual increase in positivity with increasing age, and high prevalence in children (50% in the 6- to 10-year age group) were observed. No differences were found among the different ethnic groups, nor among persons in different occupations. Economic status showed a highly negative correlation with antibody prevalence rates. The infection rate was not higher in individuals who consumed raw or undercooked meat, and no differences in antibody prevalence related to the sources of meat were observed. The seropositivity rates varied over a wide range (40–76%) according to the locality; higher Toxoplasma antibody rates were found in areas with higher rainfall, and toxoplasmosis prevalence rates correlated positively with mean annual rainfall but not with altitude or with rural or urban residence. A significant difference was observed between seropositivity rates when people living in houses with or without cats were compared. A higher prevalence of hookworm and Strongyloides infections—considered as evidence of closer contact with moist soil—were found in children with Toxoplasma antibodies than in age-adjusted control children without such antibodies. These results provide evidence that meat plays a negligible role in the transmission of Toxoplasma to man, and support the hypothesis that oocysts shed in cat feces are the almost exclusive mode of human infection in Guadeloupe.

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