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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Seroepidemiology of human Toxoplasma gondii infection in China

Yue Xiao1, Jigang Yin1, Ning Jiang1, Mei Xiang2, Lili Hao3, Huijun Lu1, Hong Sang4, Xianying Liu2, Huiji Xu5, Johan Ankarklev6, Johan Lindh6 and Qijun Chen136*

Author Affiliations

1 Key Laboratory of Zoonosis, Ministry of Education, Jilin University, Xi An Da Lu 5333, Changchun 130062, PR China

2 The Second Hospital of Jilin University, Ziqiang Street 218, Changchun 10041, PR China

3 Institute of Pathogen Biology, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, Beijing, Dong Dan San Tiao, Beijing 100730, PR China

4 The Sixth Hospital of Changchun City, North Round Road 4596, Changchun 130040, PR China

5 Changzheng Hospital, Shanghai, Fengyang Road 415, Shanghai 200003, PR China

6 Department of Parasitology, Mycology and Environmental Microbiology, Swedish Institute for Infectious Disease Control, Nobels väg 18, 171 82 Solna, Sweden

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BMC Infectious Diseases 2010, 10:4  doi:10.1186/1471-2334-10-4

Published: 7 January 2010

Abstract

Background

Toxoplasmosis is an important zoonotic parasitic disease worldwide. In immune competent individuals, Toxoplasma gondii preferentially infects tissues of central nervous systems, which might be an adding factor of certain psychiatric disorders. Congenital transmission of T. gondii during pregnancy has been regarded as a risk factor for the health of newborn infants. While in immune-compromised individuals, the parasite can cause life-threatening infections. This study aims to investigate the prevalence of T. gondii infection among clinically healthy individuals and patients with psychiatric disorders in China and to identify the potential risk factors related to the vulnerability of infection in the population.

Methods

Serum samples from 2634 healthy individuals and 547 patients with certain psychiatric disorders in Changchun and Daqing in the northeast, and in Shanghai in the south of China were examined respectively for the levels of anti-T. gondii IgG by indirect ELISA and a direct agglutination assay. Prevalence of T. gondii infection in the Chinese population in respect of gender, age, residence and health status was systematically analyzed.

Results

The overall anti-T. gondii IgG prevalence in the study population was 12.3%. In the clinically healthy population 12.5% was sero-positive and in the group with psychiatric disorders 11.3% of these patients were positive with anti-T. gondii IgG. A significant difference (P = 0.004) was found between male and female in the healthy population, the seroprevalence was 10.5% in men versus 14.3% in women. Furthermore, the difference of T. gondii infection rate between male and female in the 20-19 year's group was more obvious, with 6.4% in male population and 14.6% in female population.

Conclusion

A significant higher prevalence of T. gondii infection was observed in female in the clinically healthy population. No correlation was found between T. gondii infection and psychiatric disorders in this study. Results suggest that women are more exposed to T. gondii infection than men in China. The data argue for deeper investigations for the potential risk factors that threat the female populations.