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Toxoplasma Research at Moredun

Host Pathogen Interactions

  • Characterisation of  host-pathogen interactions in pregnant and non-pregnant animals infected with T. gondii
  • Maintaining the Moredun Toxoplasma isolates through complete life cycle which allows oocyst production for research purposes. Maintenance of several different tachyzoite isolates.
  • Comparative genomic, proteonomic and biological studies between T. gondii and N. caninum.

Vaccination Strategies

  • Infection models of toxoplasmosis in sheep and mice have been developed to allow testing of candidate vaccines to protect against congenital infection and acute infection.
  • Efficacy studies conducted at Moredun led to the licensing of Toxovax, a live vaccine to help prevent Toxoplasma associated abortion in sheep and goats.

  Diagnostics

  • Several diagnostic methods have been developed including: ELISA and IFAT to test for specific antibodies in sheep; Immuno-histochemistry; PCR diagnostics.

  Epidemiology

  • A Toxoplasma prevalence study on 125 farms, from across Scotland with a total of 3369 sheep tested, revealed that all flocks had exposure to Toxoplasma infection.
  • Identification of ferrets, polecats, stoats, foxes, badger and mink as reservoir hosts for Toxoplasma infection in Scotland.

Current interests and future aims:

  • Prevalence of Toxoplasma infection in food animals.
  • Prevalence of Toxoplasma in food products.
  • Risks to humans from consumption of contaminated food products. 
  • Environmental contamination of Toxoplasma oocysts and parasite survival.
  • Risk of Toxoplasma infection to sea mammals around the UK coastline arising from high levels of environmental contamination.
  • Identification of Toxoplasma genotypes found in UK livestock and wildlife.
  • Establish transmission routes of Toxoplasma through different hosts.

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Moredun is committed to promoting animal health and welfare through research and education and is recognized worldwide for its contribution to research into infectious diseases of farmed livestock.