Seroprevalence of Toxoplasma gondii in pregnant women and livestock in the mainland of China: a systematic review and hierarchical meta-analysis

Sci Rep. 2018 Apr 18;8(1):6218. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-24361-8.


Primary Toxoplasma gondii infection in pregnant women may result in abortion, stillbirth, or lifelong disabilities of the unborn child. One of the main transmission routes to humans is consumption of raw or undercooked meat containing T. gondii tissue cysts. We aim to determine and compare the regional distribution of T. gondii seroprevalence in pregnant women and meat-producing livestock in China through a systematic literature review. A total of 272 eligible publications were identified from Medline, Scopus, Embase and China National Knowledge Infrastructure. Apparent and true seroprevalence were analysed by region using a novel Bayesian hierarchical model that allowed incorporating sensitivity and specificity of the applied serological assays. The true seroprevalence of T. gondii in pregnant women was 5.0% or less in seven regions of China. The median of the regional true seroprevalences in pigs (24%) was significantly higher than in cattle (9.5%), but it was not significantly higher than in chickens (20%) and small ruminants (20%). This study represents the first use of a Bayesian hierarchical model to obtain regional true seroprevalence. These results, in combination with meat consumption data, can be used to better understand the contribution of meat-producing animals to human T. gondii infection in China.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Protozoan
  • Bayes Theorem
  • Cattle
  • Chickens
  • China / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Geography, Medical
  • Humans
  • Immunoassay
  • Livestock / parasitology*
  • Parasitic Diseases, Animal / epidemiology*
  • Parasitic Diseases, Animal / immunology
  • Parasitic Diseases, Animal / parasitology*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications*
  • Public Health Surveillance
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Seroepidemiologic Studies
  • Swine
  • Toxoplasma* / immunology
  • Toxoplasmosis / epidemiology*
  • Toxoplasmosis / immunology
  • Toxoplasmosis / parasitology*


  • Antibodies, Protozoan