Ann Agric Environ Med 2006, 13, 169–175


Jacek Sroka, Angelina Wójcik-Fatla, Jacek Dutkiewicz

Department of Occupational Biohazards, Institute of Agricultural Medicine, Lublin, Poland

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Sroka J, Wójcik-Fatla A, Dutkiewicz J: Occurrence of Toxoplasma gondii in water from wells located on farms. Ann Agric Environ Med 2006, 13, 169–175.

Abstract: Among various species of parasitic protozoans which may contaminate drinking water, Toxoplasma gondii is of a special importance due to the high incidence of infections with this parasite noted in animals and humans. The objective of this study was to determine the frequency of occurrence of T. gondii in drinking water on farms in the area of the Lublin province (eastern Poland) with respect to health risk among the inhabitants, and to assess the role of water in the transmission of Toxoplasma infections in the rural environment. Studies were conducted on 87 farms located in the Lublin province, 14 of which were classified as possessing a good hygienic state, and 73 as possessing a poor hygienic state. A total number of 114 drinking water samples were taken, 80 samples from shallow household wells with a windlass, 16 from deep wells with a pump, and 18 from the water supply system. In microscopic and PCR examinations of 114 water samples, T. gondii was found in 15 (13.2%) and 31 (27.2%) of samples, respectively. The presence of T. gondii DNA detected by PCR test was found significantly more frequently in water samples from the shallow windlassoperated wells than in those from deep wells (p<0.05) and water supply system (p<0.01). Water samples collected from shallow wells located on farms of poor hygienic state contained significantly more frequently DNA of T. gondii than samples from shallow wells located on farms of good hygienic state (43.1% vs. 13.3%, p<0.05). In 26.3% of water samples, oocysts of other protozoans were found belonging to Isospora, Eimeria, and Cryptosporidium. Serologic examinations for the presence of anti-Toxoplasma antibodies conducted among 99 inhabitants of the farms where household wells were used showed 64.6% of seropositive results in IgG class antibodies and 1.0% in IgM class antibodies. Clinical cases of toxoplasmosis were also noted. In the total population examined, a positive correlation was observed between the consumption of unboiled well water and the presence of antibodies against T. gondii (p<0.05), this correlation being especially strong on farms of poor hygienic state enclosing shallow wells (p<0.001). In conclusion, the recorded presence of T. gondii in well water provides an evidence of the potential risk of waterborne infection for humans and animals. Therefore, it seems necessary to implement prophylactic actions on the endangered farms.

Address for correspondence: Jacek Sroka, DVM, Department of Occupational Biohazards, Institute of Agricultural Medicine, P.O. Box 185, 20-950 Lublin, Poland. E-mail: jack@galen.imw.lublin.pl

Key words: Toxoplasma gondii, oocysts, waterborne zoonosis, serologic tests, farmers, toxoplasmosis, Lublin region, well water, PCR, microscopic examination.

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