The aim of the study was to determine the seroprevalence of Toxoplasma gondii infection in pigs raised and slaughtered in Sicily, Southern Italy, and to evaluate the risk factors associated with the infection. Samples were collected in seven slaughterhouses and on-site on 274 raising farms across Sicily, in the period from January 2006 until March 2007. For each sampled pig born and raised in Sicily, information was obtained on gender, age, origin, final destination of meat and farm management. Data on the farm included: farming type, presence of cats and dogs, rodent control by rodenticides, cleaning methods, water supply, altitude and herd size.T. gondii-specific antibodies were detected using a commercial Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay (Institut Pourquier, France).Antibodies against T. gondii were found in 16.3% of Sicilian pigs. The lowest seroprevalence, 7%, was found in the age group 5-7 months (market pig) and the highest, 19%, in the age group >24 months. Risk factors for seropositivity were: age 11-24 months compared to younger (OR 5.62; CI 1.52-20.8); farrow-to-finish farming type (OR 6.85; CI 1.87-25.01) compared to finishing and farrow-to-breed type; less than 50 pigs on the farm (OR 6.8; CI 1.76-26.2); no use of rodenticides (OR 2.71; CI 1.10-6.64), use of water coming from private sources (especially wells; OR 2.8; CI 1.03-7.72).Pigs raised in Sicily shows a high prevalence of antibodies against T. gondii. Pre-harvesting interventions to lower the risk of locally produced meat consumption for consumers should point as soon as possible to increase hygienic condition on the farm, by carefully removing waste with automatic cleaning and reducing biohazard by rodent control. Consumers must receive information on the correct handling and cooking locally produced pork meat derivatives.
- Risk factors
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