In Estonia, northeastern Europe, Toxoplasma gondii seroprevalence in humans has not declined, in contrast to many other countries. The reasons for this are unknown. Domestic cats are important hosts in the epidemiology of the parasite, but information on local feline T. gondii infections has been lacking. An epidemiological cross-sectional study was conducted to estimate the seroprevalence of T. gondii and the risk factors associated with seropositivity in cats in Estonia. Surplus from blood samples that had been collected for unrelated diagnostic purposes from 306 pet cats and 184 shelter cats were analyzed for anti-T. gondii immunoglobulin G antibodies by using a direct agglutination test. Two questionnaires were designed to reveal relevant risk factors for seropositivity. The overall seroprevalence of T. gondii in cats in Estonia was 60.8%. Older age, outdoor access, hunting, living outside the city in the countryside, and not being a purebred cat were among the risk factors associated with seropositivity. T. gondii is highly prevalent in domestic cats in Estonia. This suggests that the environment has been contaminated with T. gondii. Seropositivity indicates previous oocyst shedding, and most of the cats had outdoor access. The increase in T. gondii seroprevalence with age indicates acquired infections, and most of the risk factors were lifestyle-related. Cat owners could diminish the risk of T. gondii infection and also limit the spread of the parasite by not allowing their cats to roam free.
Must K, Lassen B, Jokelainen P. Seroprevalence of and Risk Factors for Toxoplasma gondii Infection in Cats in Estonia. Vector Borne Zoonotic Dis. 2015 Oct;15(10):597-601. doi: 10.1089/vbz.2015.1809. Epub 2015 Sep 22.