Seroprevalence of Toxoplasma gondii and Neospora caninum infection in sheep, goats, and fallow deer farmed on the same area

J Anim Sci. 2018 Jun 4;96(6):2468-2473. doi: 10.1093/jas/sky122.


Toxoplasma gondii and Neospora caninum are coccidian parasites with a global distribution that cause reproductive failure and production losses in livestock. The seroprevalence of both parasite species in ruminants and Cervidae has been investigated worldwide and found to vary greatly. Studies carried out on mixed flocks with 3 ruminant species (sheep, goats, and fallow deer) living under the same conditions are excellent models for identifying any differences in the rate of infection with the 2 parasites between the animal species. Additionally, the species used in the present study differ in their feeding categories: grazers, browsers, and intermediate feeders. The aim of the study is to identify any variation in the prevalence of the 2 parasites in mixed flocks and to identify any possible relationships with food choice. The seroprevalence against T. gondii and N. caninum in 167 captive fallow deer, 64 sheep, and 39 goats were detected using commercially available ELISA. The seroprevalence for T. gondii achieved 10% in fallow deer, 21% in goats, and 47% in sheep. The seroprevalence for N. caninum achieved 13% in sheep and fallow deer and 21% in goats. Overall, 53% of the sheep, 33% of the goats, and 22% of the fallow deer were seropositive for both infections. Coinfection of T. gondii and N. caninum was detected in 6% of sheep, 8% of goats, and 2% of fallow deer. Statistical analyses of the seroprevalence levels observed between 2 parasites for each animal species revealed that only the results obtained for sheep were significant (P < 0.01). Additionally, the differences in the seroprevalence levels for T. gondii between sheep and goats and between sheep and fallow deer were statistically significant (P < 0.01). The results of the N. caninum seroprevalence levels observed among animal species were not significant. Although the variations in susceptibility to T. gondii and N. caninum infections demonstrated by the examined animals may affect the differences in seropositivity, these appear to be related to the feeding habits of the animal species. Therefore, the risk of infection by agents found close to the ground, such as coccidian oocysts, varies. Sheep as grazers are at a greater risk of infection by T. gondii than goats and fallow deer.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Protozoan / blood*
  • Coccidiosis / epidemiology
  • Coccidiosis / parasitology
  • Coccidiosis / veterinary*
  • Deer
  • Goats
  • Livestock
  • Neospora / immunology*
  • Oocysts
  • Prevalence
  • Ruminants
  • Seroepidemiologic Studies
  • Sheep
  • Sheep Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Sheep Diseases / parasitology
  • Toxoplasma / immunology*
  • Toxoplasmosis, Animal / epidemiology*
  • Toxoplasmosis, Animal / parasitology


  • Antibodies, Protozoan