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Byström, Ronja, 2023. The seropositivity of Toxoplasma gondii in free-roaming domesticated cats in Masai Mara, Kenya : a zoonosis perspective. Second cycle, A2E. Uppsala: SLU, Dept. of Clinical Sciences (until 231231)



Toxoplasma gondii is an intracellular parasite with felids as the definitive host. It can infect almost every animal, including humans, as its intermediate host. It is an important zoonosis, especially for immune-deprived people, such as patients with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), and pregnant women. In patients with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) it can cause encephalitis and if a woman becomes infected during pregnancy, it can cause brain damage to the foetus or result in miscarriage. The parasite is spread throughout the world, but little research about the prevalence in cats has been carried out in African countries.
This thesis was performed in Masai Mara North Conservancy in Kenya and aimed to investigate the seroprevalence of toxoplasma IgG antibodies in domestic cats. In order to gain information regarding the local people’s interactions with these cats a questionnaire was used to interview 100 households in the area. The questionnaire was performed with help from an interpreter because the majority of people did not speak or understand English.
In total 47 cats were sampled, of which 20 were males and 27 were females. Of the cats, 89.4% had IgG antibodies against toxoplasma, i.e. 90% of the males and 88.9% of the females. No statistically significant difference between the genders could be found. With sample size calculation, the seroprevalence in the area can be estimated to be 89.4 +/- 10% CI80.
The result of the interviews revealed that interactions with cats are more abundant in this community than hypothesized. Of 100 households, 69% answered that they owned one or more cats and 86.2% of non-cat households invited other peoples’ cats into their homes. The majority of the households reported feeding the cats, with milk and meat being the most common food. The interviews also revealed that women have the most contact with cats.
Only 26% (26/100) believed that cats can transmit disease to humans and of them, seven households could name a disease they thought could be transmitted from cats to humans. Two of them believed that cats become venomous when ingesting a snake and that the cat then can transmit the venom to humans. Other diseases mentioned were rabies, tetanus, tuberculosis, and diarrhoea. No one mentioned toxoplasmosis and when told about the disease no one could recall hearing about it before.
The result of this report shows a high seropositivity for antibodies to Toxoplasma gondii in domestic cats in this area. It also showed that people, especially women, have close contact with cats and highlights the importance of education and information regarding zoonotic diseases. In addition, there was an interest from the community to know more about the topic, which would facilitate information dissemination.

Main title:The seropositivity of Toxoplasma gondii in free-roaming domesticated cats in Masai Mara, Kenya
Subtitle:a zoonosis perspective
Authors:Byström, Ronja
Supervisor:Morrell, Jane and Hård, Therese
Examiner:Axner, Eva
Volume/Sequential designation:UNSPECIFIED
Year of Publication:2023
Level and depth descriptor:Second cycle, A2E
Student's programme affiliation:VY009 Veterinary Medicine programme, 330.0hp
Supervising department:(VH) > Dept. of Clinical Sciences (until 231231)
Keywords:toxoplasma, toxoplasmosis, domestic cat, Kenya, Masai Mara, zoonosis, public health, seropositivity, seroprevalence
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Subject. Use of subject categories until 2023-04-30.:Animal diseases
Deposited On:16 Feb 2023 08:15
Metadata Last Modified:17 Feb 2023 02:00

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