Prevalence of Toxoplasma gondii on Small Ruminant Farms in Delaware

Project Overview

Project Type: Partnership
Funds awarded in 2020: $29,992.00
Projected End Date: 07/31/2023
Grant Recipient: Delaware State University
Region: Northeast
State: Delaware
Project Leader:
Dr. Kwame Matthews
Delaware State University


  • Animals: goats, sheep


  • Animal Production: animal protection and health, other, parasite control, preventive practices
  • Education and Training: extension, farmer to farmer, on-farm/ranch research, participatory research, technical assistance, workshop
  • Sustainable Communities: partnerships, quality of life

    Proposal abstract:

    Toxoplasmosis is the zoonotic disease caused by Toxoplasma gondii. Symptoms only become easily noticeable once an animal is immunocompromised (ill or pregnant). Majority of the symptoms occur in females with abortion, fetal mummification, reabsorption, weak kids, and in severe cases, blindness and brain damage. In order to effectively report the incidence and stop the cycle of toxoplasmosis on farms, it is imperative animals with the parasite are identified and treated or culled and preventative measure are taken. Over 40 years ago, molecular detection identified surface antigen 1 (SAG-1) as a major surface antigen with specificity to T. gondii. The SAG-1 gene has been utilized by many to detect T. gondii livestock across the world. Therefore, this project seeks to characterize the level and understand the impact of Toxoplasma gondiiinfection on small ruminant farms in Delaware. To complete this project, fifteen small ruminant farms (at least 10 animals) in Delaware will be selected and blood samples taken from their animals. Utilizing molecular techniques with SAG-1 specific primers, polymerase chain reaction (PCR) will be conducted and the product fractionated to identify SAG-1 gene. The results from this study will be used to inform producers of actual status of T. gondii presence and impact it has on the reproduction efficiency on their farms. This study will generate data that will update the information on anthelmintic resistance in Delaware. Results will be distributed to animal scientists, extension agents, and producers through presentations at scientific meetings, workshops, extension meetings and publications.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    This project seeks to characterize the level of and understand the impact of Toxoplasma gondii infection on small ruminant farms in Delaware. Molecular detection method (polymerize chain reaction; PCR) will be used to determine the levels of T. gondii parasite in small ruminants in Delaware and surveys will be created to gain information from farmers to understand the impact this parasite had on the reproductive efficiency on their farm. The results from this objective will be used to educate producers of the popularity of T. gondii within Delaware and to help them come up with ways to prevent or limit the impacts of this parasite.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.