Toxoplasma gondii abortion storm in sheep on a Texas farm and isolation of mouse virulent atypical genotype T. gondii from an aborted lamb from a chronically infected ewe. Academic Article uri icon


  • Sheep are commonly infected with the protozoan parasite, Toxoplasma gondii. Infection may cause early embryonic death and resorption, fetal death and mummification, abortion, stillbirth, and neonatal death. Most sheep acquire T. gondii infection after birth. Recent studies reported that congenital ovine transmission of T. gondii may be more common than previously believed, but these findings are solely based on PCR data and require confirmation using other techniques to verify the findings. In the present study, during the lambing season of 2005 a toxoplasmosis abortion storm occurred in a flock of purebred Suffolk ewes on a farm in Texas. Only 14 healthy lambs were born, and 38 abortuses, mummies and weak or stillborn lambs were delivered. Another 15 fetuses identified by ultrasound were presumably resorbed or were aborted undetected. Antibodies to T. gondii were found in 37 (94.8%) of the 39 ewes and 30 of them had high titers (1:3200 or higher) when tested in the modified agglutination test (MAT). In the 2006 lambing season, two (both with MAT titers of 3200 in 2005) of 26 ewes delivered T. gondii infected lambs. T. gondii tissue cysts were found histologically in lesions of encephalitis in a lamb from one ewe and viable T. gondii (designated TgShUs55) was isolated from the brain and heart of a lamb from the second ewe. TheTgShUs55 had an atypical genotype using 10 PCR-RFLP markers, and was 100% lethal for Swiss Webster mice, irrespective of the dose or the stage of the parasite inoculated. In subsequent seasons, the ewes lambed normally. The results of the present study support the hypothesis that most sheep that have aborted due to T. gondii develop protection against future toxoplasmosis induced abortion, but the protection is not absolute.

published proceedings

  • Vet Parasitol

author list (cited authors)

  • Edwards, J. F., & Dubey, J. P.

citation count

  • 67

complete list of authors

  • Edwards, John F||Dubey, JP

publication date

  • February 2013