Levels of Toxoplasma gondii in Swine Operations
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Results from this and other studies have shown a clear association between pork production systems that are accessible to Toxoplasma gondii vectors, such as cats, and seropositivity of hogs for T. gondii. Sows and market hogs in pork production systems that had total confinement facilities in phases (farrowing, nursery, finishing) were significantly less likely to be seropositive for T. gondii. Of the market hogs tested, 4.4% from nonconfinement facilities were positive compared with 2.3% of the hogs from all confinement facilities. Pigs produced in systems that used bait and/or traps as the only method of rodent control had significantly fewer animals seropositive for T. gondii.
Reducing the level of toxoplasmosis can have a direct impact on consumers. Given this, and the lack of direct economic incentives for pork producers, industry programs would be helpful in assisting consumer and producer benefits to better match. Moreover, consumer assurance of the safety of pork is vital to continued and enhanced demand for pork, both domestically and internationally. Moreover, there is an increased consumer awareness of foodborne pathogens. The demand for safe food products is increasing. A T. gondii food-safety incident related to pork would erode the consumer image, potentially leading to reduced demand, at least in the short term. The industry needs to evaluate methods of reducing cat accessibility to pig production systems.