Toxoplasma gondii is a coccidian parasite able to infect all warm-blooded animals and humans. Rodents are one of the most important intermediate hosts for T. gondii, but little is known about infection in beavers and its clinical relevance. Toxoplasmosis was not considered an important waterborne disease until recently, but with increased outbreaks in humans and animals this perspective has changed. Serum samples from 247 Eurasian beavers (Castor fiber) collected from 2002 to 2022 were tested for antibodies to T. gondii by a commercial ELISA. Antibodies to T. gondii were found in 113 (45.8%) beavers. Higher weight and proximity to urban areas were found to be significant predictors for seropositivity. Additionally, T. gondii DNA was detected in 23/41 brain tissue samples by real-time PCR. Histopathologic examination of brain sections revealed inflammatory changes in 26/40 beavers, mainly characterized by encephalitis, meningitis, choroid plexitis, or a combination of them. In six of these cases the lesions were in direct association with parasitic stages. With an adapted nested PCR multilocus sequence typing and in silico restriction fragment length polymorphism analysis approach, three different T. gondii genotypes were detected in brain samples: the clonal Type II strain (ToxoDB 1), a Type II variant (ToxoDB 3), and a novel genotype exhibiting both Type II and I alleles in a further animal. Toxoplasma gondii infections in beavers have epidemiologic and clinical significance. The high seroprevalence indicates frequent contact with the parasite, and as competent intermediate hosts they may play an important role, contributing to maintaining the life cycle of T. gondii in semiaquatic habitats. In addition, although most beavers appear to develop subclinical to chronic disease courses, acute and fatal outcomes, mainly characterized by encephalitis and generalized infection, do also occur.

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