Fatal outbreak of human toxoplasmosis along the Maroni River: epidemiological, clinical, and parasitological aspects

Clin Infect Dis. 2007 Oct 1;45(7):e88-95. doi: 10.1086/521246. Epub 2007 Aug 27.


Background: Well-documented outbreaks of human toxoplasmosis infection are infrequently reported. Here, we describe a community outbreak of multivisceral toxoplasmosis that occurred in Patam, a Surinamese village near the French Guianan border.

Methods: From the end of December 2003 through the middle of January 2004, 5 adult patients in Patam, including 2 pregnant women, were initially hospitalized for multivisceral toxoplasmosis. A French-Surinamese epidemiological investigation was conducted in the village; inquiries and clinical examinations were performed, and blood and environmental samples were obtained. For all serologically confirmed cases of toxoplasmosis, molecular analysis and mouse inoculations were performed for diagnosis and genetic characterization of Toxoplasma gondii.

Results: The hospitalized patients, who did not have any immunodeficiencies, presented with an infectious disease with multivisceral involvement. Serological examination confirmed acute toxoplasmosis. One adult died, and a neonate and a fetus with congenital toxoplasmosis also died. During the investigation, 4 additional acute cases of toxoplasmosis were diagnosed among the 33 villagers. Only 3 inhabitants had serological evidence of previous T. gondii infection. In total, we reported 11 cases of toxoplasmosis: 8 multivisceral cases in immunocompetent adults, resulting in 1 death; 2 cases of lethal congenital toxoplasmosis in a neonate and a fetus; and 1 symptomatic case in a child. Molecular analysis demonstrated that identical isolates of only 1 atypical strain were responsible for at least 5 of the 11 cases of toxoplasmosis in the outbreak. No epidemiological sources could be linked to this severe community-wide outbreak of toxoplasmosis.

Conclusion: This report is in agreement with the particular features of toxoplasmosis involving atypical strains that were recently described in French Guiana.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Disease Outbreaks*
  • Female
  • Fetal Death
  • Genotype
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications, Parasitic / mortality*
  • Suriname / epidemiology
  • Toxoplasma / genetics*
  • Toxoplasma / pathogenicity
  • Toxoplasmosis / diagnosis
  • Toxoplasmosis / mortality*