The detection of Toxoplasma gondii in quick-frozen chickens is a good indicator of the possible transmission risk that this parasite poses to human consumers. The aim of this study was to investigate the occurrence of T. gondii in quick-frozen chicken hearts using a nested PCR assay. Heart samples (n = 720) from farmers' markets and supermarkets in the Tai'an region, People's Republic of China, were collected, and the DNA extracted was analyzed for the presence of T. gondii. The overall prevalence of T. gondii in all samples was 10.7%, but the rates for samples from farmers' markets (19.2%) and supermarkets (2.2%) were significantly different (P < 0.01). Nested PCR restriction fragment length polymorphism genotyping was performed on the 77 positive samples based on the T. gondii SAG3 and GRA6 gene loci. SAG3 genotyping revealed a mixed infection rate of 89.6% for type I and type I/II strains, and GRA6 genotyping revealed an infection rate of 98.7% for type I strains. Our results revealed a high prevalence of T. gondii in chicken hearts from farmers' markets, and most strains were mainly type I strains. Further studies are needed to determine whether quick-frozen chicken hearts are involved in disease transmission to human consumers in this area.

  • T. gondii prevalence was 10.7% in chicken heart samples.

  • Prevalence in chicken hearts was higher in samples from farmers' markets than in those from supermarkets.

  • T. gondii strains identified were mainly of genotypes I and I/II.

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