Open Access Research article

Seroepidemiology of Toxoplasma gondii infection in psychiatric inpatients in a northern Mexican city

Cosme Alvarado-Esquivel1*, Olga-Patricia Alanis-Quiñones2, Miguel-Ángel Arreola-Valenzuela2, Alfredo Rodríguez-Briones3, Luis-Jorge Piedra-Nevarez3, Ehecatl Duran-Morales3, Sergio Estrada-Martínez4, Sergio-Arturo Martínez-García1 and Oliver Liesenfeld5

Author Affiliations

1 Faculty of Medicine, Juárez University of Durango State (UJED). Durango, Mexico

2 Hospital of Mental Health "Dr. Miguel Vallebueno", Durango City, Secretary of Health. Durango, Mexico

3 State Center for Blood Transfusion. Durango City, Secretary of Health. Durango, Mexico

4 Institute for Scientific Research, UJED. Durango, Mexico

5 Institute for Microbiology and Hygiene, Campus Benjamin Franklin, Charité Medical School Berlin, Germany

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BMC Infectious Diseases 2006, 6:178  doi:10.1186/1471-2334-6-178

Published: 19 December 2006



Patients with psychiatric disorders were found to show a high seroprevalence of Toxoplasma gondii infection. There is scarce information about the epidemiology of T. gondii infection in psychiatric patients in Mexico. Therefore, we sought to determine the prevalence of T. gondii infection and associated socio-demographic, clinical and behavioural characteristics in a population of psychiatric patients in Durango City, Mexico. Seroprevalence in patients was compared with that obtained in a control population.


One hundred and thirty seven inpatients of a public psychiatric hospital and 180 controls were examined for the presence of IgG and IgM antibodies against T. gondii by enzyme-linked immunoassay (Diagnostic Automation Inc., Calabasas, CA, USA). The control population consisted of blood donors of a public blood bank and elderly persons attending a senior center in the same city. Age in controls (42 years +/- 20.2) was comparable with that of the psychiatric patients (43.7 years +/-13.8) (p = 0.42). Socio-demographic, clinical and behavioral characteristics from the patients were also obtained.


Anti-T. gondii IgG antibodies indicating latent infection with T. gondii was found in 25 (18.2%) of 137 psychiatric inpatients and 16 (8.9%) of 180 controls (p = 0.02). Ten (26.3%) of 38 schizophrenic patients had latent infection and this prevalence was also significantly higher than that observed in controls (p = 0.005). Prevalence of anti-T. gondii IgM antibodies was comparable among patients and controls (4.4% vs 2.2%, respectively, p = 0.22). Multivariate analysis showed that T. gondii infection in inpatients was positively associated with sexual promiscuity (adjusted OR = 15.8; 95% CI: 3.8–64.8), unwashed raw fruit consumption (adjusted OR = 5.19; 95% CI: 2.3–11.3), and a history of surgery (adjusted OR = 6.5; 95% CI: 2.6–16), and negatively associated with lamb meat consumption (adjusted OR = 0.26; 95% CI: 0.10–0.63).


In the present study, psychiatric inpatients in Durango, Mexico, in general and schizophrenia inpatients in particular had a significantly higher prevalence of T. gondii infection than the control group. Results suggest that unwashed raw fruit consumption might be the most important route of T. gondii transmission in our psychiatric inpatients while lamb meat consumption the less important. Additional studies will have to elucidate the causative relation between infection with T. gondii and psychiatric disorders.