Veterinary parasitology

A seroepidemiological study of exposure to Toxoplasma, Leishmania, Echinococcus and Trichinella in equids in Greece and analysis of risk factors.

PMID 20197215


The role of horses in the transmission of parasitic zoonoses either as a source of infection to vectors or through contamination of definitive hosts is gaining importance worldwide. For this reason sera from 773 equids including 753 horses, 13 mules and seven ponies in four regions of Greece were investigated by ELISA for the presence of IgG antibodies against Toxoplasma, Leishmania, Echinococcus and Trichinella. Anti-Toxoplasma antibodies were detected in all regions with an overall prevalence of 1.8%. In contrast, antibodies to Leishmania, Echinococcus, and Trichinella were present only in horses from the equestrian centre located in Attica region, but the status of Trichinella could not be confirmed. The seroprevalence of infection was 0.3% for Leishmania, 0.1% for Echinococcus and 0.1% for Trichinella. Only one horse was positive with a mixed infection of Toxoplasma, Leishmania and Trichinella. The following host characteristics were investigated for any significant effects on the prevalence of Toxoplasma infection: gender, age, species, origin of birth, activity, and location. The type of activity (p<0.05) and location (p<0.01) of the animals were found to be significant risk factors for Toxoplasma infection. The relative risk (RR) for Toxoplasma infection comparing the regions of Peloponnese and Thessaly to Attica were 6.92 and 6.78, respectively. Due to the very low prevalence of Echinococcus, Leishmania, and Trichinella infections, the associated risk factors were not analysed. The low seroprevalences observed suggest that the risk of infection from equids to people is very low, especially when consumption of horse meat is uncommon in this country.