First nationwide survey of the seroprevalence of Toxoplasma gondii in wild boars in Japan.
The increase in some wildlife species is of global concern. The utilization of wildlife meat as food and feed represents a potential source of food-borne pathogens; this is particularly a potential concern for the use of wild board as a food source in Japan. Regarding food safety and an animal infectious disease control, however, little is known about the infection level of zoonotic pathogens including Toxoplasma gondii (T. gondii) in wild boar populations in their natural habitats in Japan. A total of 1279 blood samples from 41 prefectures were collected from apparently healthy wild boars during the three hunting periods (September to February) of 2014-2015, 2015-2016, and 2017-2018. Out of these sera, 461 samples tested positive by a commercial indirect ELISA for T. gondii, and the total apparent and adjusted true seroprevalence were estimated to 36.0% (95% confidence interval [CI], 33.4-38.7) and 31.3% (95% CI, 33.1-38.9), respectively. The seroprevalence was significantly higher in yearlings and adults than in piglets (P < 0.05); however, no significant difference according to gender was noted. These results indicate the importance of adequate heating of wild boar meat before consumption to prevent transmission of T. gondii to humans. Furthermore, freezing meat for several days before cooking is recommended to reduce the risk of infection. In addition, although the incidence of toxoplasmosis in pig farms is relatively low in Japan, biosecurity measures against the felids and the varied intermediate hosts should be strengthened, especially, at the farms located in the wild boar habitats to prevent livestock infection.