The prevalence of Toxoplasma gondii in free-ranging chickens is a good indicator of the prevalence of T. gondii oocysts in the soil because chickens feed from the ground. The prevalence of T. gondii in 152 free-range chickens (Gallus domesticus) from 22 municipalities in 7 northeastern states (Pernambuco, Rio Grande do Norte, Maranhão, Bahia, Ceará, Sergipe, and Alagoas) of Brazil was determined. Antibodies to T. gondii were assayed by the modified agglutination test (MAT); 81 (53.3 %) chickens had titers of 1:5 in 26, 1:10 in 9, 1:20 in 4, 1:40 in 1, 1:80 in 6, 1:160 in 6, 1:320 in 13, 1:640 in 6, 1:1,280 in 3, 1:2,560 in 6, and 1:5,120 or higher in 1. Hearts and brains of 81 seropositive chickens were bioassayed individually in mice. Toxoplasma gondii was isolated from 23 chickens with MAT titers of 1:5 or higher; the isolates were designated TgCKBr165-187. Five isolates killed all infected mice. Results indicate widespread contamination of rural environment in Brazil with T. gondii oocysts.

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