Mice, introduced by maritime trade, play a key role in Toxoplasma gondii distribution

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The house mouse has dramatically shaped Toxoplasma gondii populations in West Africa and around the world, according to new research.

T. gondii is found globally with both mammals and birds acting as intermediate hosts prior to infecting cat populations. However, the determinants of the current geographical distribution for T. gondii strains remains poorly understood.

In this study, published in PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases, the researchers conducted a population genetic study of 72 T. gondii animal isolates from Senegal. Samples were taken from just over 2000 infected chickens and ducks from two port cities and one inland region. Overall four major lineages were identified, one of which was described for the first time.

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