Excretion of Toxoplasma gondii oocysts from feral cats in Korea.
Sporulated oocysts from the feces of infected cats with Toxoplasma gondii can cause detrimental disease in both humans and animals. To investigate the prevalence of feral cats that excrete T. gondii oocysts in the feces, we examined fecal samples of 563 feral cats over a 3-year period from 2009 to 2011. Oocysts of T. gondii excreted into the feces were found from 4 of 128 cats in 2009 (3.1%) and one of 228 (0.4%) in 2010 while none of the 207 cats in 2010 were found positive with oocysts in their feces, resulting in an overall prevalence rate of 0.89% (5/563) between 2009 and 2011. Among the 5 cats that tested positive with T. gondii oocysts, 4 of the cats were male and 1 was a female with an average body weight of 0.87 kg. Numerous tissue cysts of 60 µm in diameter with thin (<0.5 µm) cyst walls were found in the brain of one of the 5 cats on necropsy 2 months after the identification of oocysts in the feces. A PCR amplification of the T. gondii-like oocysts in the feces of the positive cats using the primer pairs Tox-5/Tox-8 and Hham34F/Hham3R confirmed the presence of T. gondii oocysts in the feces. This study provides a good indication of the risk assessment of feral cats in the transmission of T. gondii to humans in Korea.