Cross-sectional study of Toxoplasma gondii infection in pig farms in England

Ingestion of undercooked meat has been proposed as an important source of human Toxoplasma gondii infection. To ascertain the contribution of meat consumption to the risk of human infection, estimates of the prevalence of infection in meat-producing animals are required. A cross-sectional study was conducted to assess T. gondii infection in pigs raised in England, to identify risk factors for infection, and to compare performance of two serological tests: modified agglutination test (MAT) and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Blood samples from 2071 slaughter pigs originating from 131 farms were collected and 75 (3.6%) were found to be positive by MAT. Positive pigs originated from 24 farms. A subset of samples (n = 492) were tested using ELISA, and a significant disagreement (p < 0.001) was found between the two tests. An empirical Bayes approach was used to estimate the farm-level prevalence and the probability of each individual farm having at least one positive animal, considering the uncertainty arising from the sampling strategy and the imperfect test performance. The adjusted farm-level prevalence was 11.5% (95% credible interval of positive farms 8.4-16.0%). Two different criteria were used for classifying farms as infected: (1) >/=50% probability of having at least one infected pig (n = 5, 6.8%) and (2) >/=10% probability (n = 15, 20.5%). Data on putative risk factors were obtained for 73 farms. Using a 10% cutoff, the relative risk (RR) of infection was higher in farms where cats have direct access to pigs' food (RR = 2.6; p = 0.04), pigs have outdoor access (RR = 3.0; p = 0.04), and farms keeping

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