ABSTRACT

Toxoplasma gondii infections are common in humans and animals worldwide. The ingestion of food or water contaminated with oocysts excreted by infected cats or ingestion of uncooked or undercooked meat containing tissue cysts of T. gondii are the 2 major modes of transmission of T. gondii. Deer are a popular game. Recently, outbreaks of clinical toxoplasmosis were reported in humans in North America linked to ingestion of undercooked venison. Here, we review prevalence, persistence of infection, clinical disease, epidemiology, and public health risks of T. gondii infections in deer and other cervids for the past decade. Estimates of worldwide serological prevalence are summarized individually for each species of deer, elk, moose, and caribou. Genetic diversity of 112 viable isolates of T. gondii from cervids is discussed, including its public health significance. Prevalence of T. gondii in deer is very high. Any part of a deer, including liver, spleen, and muscles, should be cooked thoroughly before human consumption.

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