Open Access Research article

Seroepidemiology of Toxoplasma gondii infection in women of child-bearing age in central Ethiopia

Endrias Zewdu Gebremedhin1*, Anteneh Hailu Abebe2, Tesfaye Sisay Tessema2, Kassu Desta Tullu3, Girmay Medhin4, Maria Vitale5, Vincenzo Di Marco5, Eric Cox6 and Pierre Dorny7

Author affiliations

1 Ambo University, Faculty of Agriculture and Veterinary Sciences, Department of Veterinary Laboratory Technology, P.O.Box 19, Ambo, Ethiopia

2 Addis Ababa University, College of Health Sciences, School of Veterinary Medicine, Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Public Health, P.O.Box 34, Debre-Zeit, Ethiopia

3 Addis Ababa University, College of Health Sciences, Department of Medical Laboratory Sciences, P. O. Box 9086, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

4 Addis Ababa University, Aklilu Lemma Institute of Pathobiology, P.O.Box. 1176, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

5 Italian National Reference Centre for Toxoplasmosis at Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale della Sicilia A. Mirri, Palermo, Italy

6 Gent University, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Salisburylaan 133, B-9820, Merelbeke, Belgium

7 Institute of Tropical Medicine, Department of Biomedical Sciences, P. O. Box 2000, Antwerp, Belgium

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Citation and License

BMC Infectious Diseases 2013, 13:101  doi:10.1186/1471-2334-13-101

Published: 26 February 2013



Toxoplasma gondii infections during pregnancy can result in abortion or congenital defects. Prevalence and risk factors of toxoplasmosis in women of child-bearing age in Ethiopia are unknown. The current study was conducted with the objectives of estimating the seroprevalence and potential risk factors in acquiring T. gondii infection by women of child-bearing age in Central Ethiopia.


A cross-sectional study was conducted from March 2011 to September 2011. Sera of 425 women were analyzed by indirect enzyme linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). A questionnaire survey was administered for all study participants to gather information on risk factors.


The study revealed that anti- T. gondii IgG antibodies were detected in 81.4% of the samples of which 78.4% were positive for only IgG and 3.06% positive for both IgG and IgM antibodies. Seroprevalence of IgM antibodies to T. gondii (4.0%, 95% CI: 2.14, 5.86) was suggestive of recent infections. Of the 213 pregnant women 9 (4.2 %) were IgM reactive. Out of 17 potential risk factors investigated, univariate logistic regression showed significant association of T. gondii infection with study area, age, pregnancy status, raw vegetable consumption, source of water, presence of cats at home, contact with cats, HIV status and precaution during cats’ feces cleaning (P ≤ 0.05). The final logistic regression model revealed that: the probability of acquiring T. gondii infection by women of Debre-Zeit was 4.46 times (95% CI of adjusted odds ratio [aOR]: 1.67, 11.89; P =0.003) higher compared to women of Ambo, pregnant women were twice (95% CI aOR: 1.13, 3.59; P = 0.018) more likely to be seropositive than non-pregnant women and women who consume raw vegetable were at increased risk of infection (aOR = 2.21, 95% CI: 1.03, 4.78; P = 0.043) than women who didn’t consume.


The seroprevalence of T. gondii infection in women of child-bearing age in Central Ethiopia is high. Study area, pregnancy and raw vegetable consumption are risk factors to acquire T. gondii infection. Educational program, antenatal screening of pregnant women and further epidemiological studies to uncover the economic and health impact of toxoplasmosis are suggested.

Toxoplasma gondii; Seroprevalence; Cross-sectional; Risk factors; Central Ethiopia; ELISA