Occurrence of Toxoplasma gondii in water from wells located on farms.
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Department of Occupational Biohazards, Institute of Agricultural Medicine, Lublin, Poland
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Jacek Sroka   

Department of Occupational Biohazards, Institute of Agricultural Medicine, P.O.Box 185, 20-950 Lublin, Poland
Ann Agric Environ Med. 2006;13(1):169-175
Among various species of parasitic protozoans which may contaminate drinkingwater, Toxoplasma gondii is of a special importance due to the high incidence of infections with thisparasite noted in animals and humans. The objective of this study was to determine the frequency of occurrenceof T. gondii in drinking water on farms in the area of the Lublin province (eastern Poland) with respectto health risk among the inhabitants, and to assess the role of water in the transmission of Toxoplasmainfections 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 hygienicstate. A total number of 114 drinking water samples were taken, 80 samples from shallow household wellswith a windlass, 16 from deep wells with a pump, and 18 from the water supply system. In microscopicand 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 frequentlyin water samples from the shallow windlass-operated wells than in those from deep wells (p<0.05) andwater supply system (p<0.01). Water samples collected from shallow wells located on farms of poor hygienicstate contained significantly more frequently DNA of T. gondii than samples from shallow wells locatedon farms of good hygienic state (43.1% vs. 13.3%, p<0.05). In 26.3% of water samples, oocysts of otherprotozoans were found belonging to Isospora, Eimeria, and Cryptosporidium. Serologic examinations forthe presence of anti-Toxoplasma antibodies conducted among 99 inhabitants of the farms where householdwells 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 correlationwas 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 enclosingshallow wells (p<0.001). In conclusion, the recorded presence of T. gondii in well water provides anevidence of the potential risk of waterborne infection for humans and animals. Therefore, it seems necessaryto implement prophylactic actions on the endangered farms.
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