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Open Access Research article

Seroepidemiological study of ovine toxoplasmosis in East and West Shewa Zones of Oromia Regional State, Central Ethiopia

Endrias Zewdu Gebremedhin1*, Abebe Agonafir2, Tesfaye Sisay Tessema3, Getachew Tilahun4, Girmay Medhin4, Maria Vitale5, Vincenzo Di Marco5, Eric Cox6, Jozef Vercruysse6 and Pierre Dorny67

Author Affiliations

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

2 Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Jijiga University, Jijiga, Ethiopia

3 Department of Microbiology, Epidemiology and Public Health, College of Veterinary Medicine and Agriculture, Addis Ababa University, Debre-Zeit, 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, Italy

6 Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Department of Virology, Parasitology and Immunology, Ghent University, Salisburylaan 133, Merelbeke B-9820, Belgium

7 Department of Biomedical Sciences, Institute of Tropical Medicine, Antwerp B-2000, Belgium

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BMC Veterinary Research 2013, 9:117  doi:10.1186/1746-6148-9-117

Published: 15 June 2013



Toxoplasmosis is a globally distributed zoonosis. Consumption of raw or undercooked meat, which is among the main risk factors for acquiring human infection, is a popular tradition in Ethiopia. However, studies on toxoplasmosis in food animals used for human consumption in Ethiopia are very scarce. Thus, the objectives of the present study were to estimate the seroprevalence and the risk factors of T. gondii infection in sheep in Ambo, Ada’a-Liben and Fentale districts of Central Ethiopia. Sera from 1130 sheep were analyzed for Toxoplasma gondii specific IgG antibodies using an indirect enzyme linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) with the P30 antigen. A questionnaire was administered to assess potential risk factors for T. gondii seropositivity. Association of seroprevalence with potential risk factors related to altitude, host and farm characteristics were analyzed by univariable and multivariable logistic regression.


Overall flock and animal level seroprevalences were 70.48% (160/227; 95% CI: 64.51, 76.46) and 31.59% (357/1130; 95% CI: 28.88, 34.31), respectively. The multivariable logistic regression model indicated that the probability of acquiring T. gondii was higher in sheep from highland (2300 – 3200 meters above sea level) [Odds ratio (OR) = 4.11, 95% confidence interval (CI): 2.65, 6.36; P < 0.001] and midland (OR = 4.54, 95% CI: 2.76, 7.49; P < 0.001) than from lowland (<1500 meters above sea level), in females than in males (OR = 1.60, 95% CI: 1.04, 2.43, P = 0.033), in adult than in young animals (OR = 2.93, 95% CI: 1.97, 4.35, P < 0.001), in small than in large flocks (OR = 3.34, 95% CI: 1.26, 8.86, P = 0.016), and in sheep that were given tap water (OR = 4.07, 95% CI: 1.07, 15.42, P = 0.039) and river water (OR = 4.18, 95% CI: 1.54, 11.35, P = 0.005) than in those that drunk water from mixed sources (i.e., river, well, lake and pond).


The high flock and animal level seroprevalence of toxoplasmosis in sheep is a good marker of the potential risk for human infections. Altitude, sex, age, flock size and source of water were identified as important risk factors to acquire the infection. Public education and awareness training are imperative in order to alleviate the danger posed to consumers. Further detailed studies to assess the impact of infections are warranted.

Toxoplasma gondii; Sheep; Central Ethiopia; ELISA; Seroprevalence