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Characterizing Toxoplasma gondii virulence: role of host and pathogen

Grant number: 19/21697-6
Support type:Regular Research Grants
Duration: August 01, 2020 - July 31, 2023
Field of knowledge:Agronomical Sciences - Veterinary Medicine - Preventive Veterinary Medicine
Cooperation agreement: BBSRC, UKRI
Principal researcher:Hilda Fátima de Jesus Pena
Grantee:Hilda Fátima de Jesus Pena
Principal researcher abroad: Elizabeth Ann Innes
Institution abroad: Moredun Foundation, Scotland
Home Institution: Faculdade de Medicina Veterinária e Zootecnia (FMVZ). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil
Assoc. researchers: Daniela Pontes Chiebao ; Marcos Amaku ; Solange Maria Gennari


Toxoplasma gondii is an important zoonotic parasite with global impact capable of infecting all warm-blooded animals. Toxoplasmosis is recognised by the World Health Organisation as one of the most important foodborne diseases worldwide and is also a major cause of production loss in sheep.Research into its genetic diversity has revealed an abundance of atypical strains in South America where there are more cases of severe toxoplasmosis. Despite T. gondii being an important foodborne pathogen, there is little data on the role of meat products in transmission. In Brazil, exposure of livestock to T. gondii is very high (59-100%) yet there is a notable paucity of data on the relative risk of infection from retail meat. Meat consumption in Brazil is extremely high so it is crucial to determine its role in T. gondii transmission, particularly given the high incidence of atypical strains in this region. The mouse has been an invaluable tool in investigating T. gondii virulence; however, given the lack of evidence of a correlation between virulence in mice versus higher animals, there is an urgent need for a more relevant, host-specific system predicting disease outcome. This project aims to conduct a comprehensive study of the incidence, viability, genetic diversity and virulence of T. gondii in retail meat to assess the risk of foodborne infection to consumers in the city of São Paulo, as well as characterise virulence in a host-specific system.I (AU)

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