Assessing the impact of preventative measures to limit the spread of Toxoplasma gondii in wild carnivores of Madagascar

Fidisoa T. Rasambainarivo, Santatra Randrianarisoa, Olivier A. Rasolofoniaina, Benjamin L. Rice, C. Jessica E. Metcalf

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Novel multihost pathogens can threaten endangered wildlife species, as well as humans and domestic animals. The zoonotic protozoan parasite Toxoplasma gondii is transmitted by members of Felidae and can infect a large number of animal species, including humans. This parasite can have significant health consequences for infected intermediate hosts and could further endanger wild carnivore populations of Madagascar. Building on an empirical characterization of the prevalence of the pathogen in local mammals, we used mathematical models of pathogen transmission in a multihost community to compare preventative measures that aim to limit the spread of this parasite in wild carnivores. Specifically, we examined the effect of hypothetical cat vaccination and population control campaigns on reducing the risk of infection by T. gondii in wild Eupleridae. Our model predicted that the prevalence of exposure to T. gondii in cats would be around 72% and that seroprevalence would reach 2% and 43% in rodents and wild carnivores, respectively. Reducing the rodent population in the landscape by half may only decrease the prevalence of T. gondii in carnivores by 10%. Similarly, cat vaccination and reducing the population of definitive hosts had limited impact on the prevalence of T. gondii in wild carnivorans of Madagascar. A significant reduction in prevalence would require extremely high vaccination, low turnover, or both in the cat population. Other potential control methods of T. gondii in endangered Eupleridae include targeted vaccination of wild animals but would require further investigation. Eliminating the threat entirely will be difficult because of the ubiquity of cats and the persistence of the parasite in the environment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalConservation Biology
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation

Keywords

  • conservación
  • conservation
  • eficiencia de las medidas preventivas
  • enfermedades de la fauna
  • mathematical model
  • modelo matemático
  • preventative measures effectiveness
  • Toxoplasma gondii
  • Toxoplasma gondii
  • wildlife diseases
  • zoonosis
  • zoonosis

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