Despite being recognized as a significant foodborne pathogen, the knowledge related to food safety and public health significance T. gondii is typically limited, these scientists point out. “In particular, information on the wide range of food animals that can harbor this protozoan pathogen and thus serve as potential reservoirs for human infections is needed,” they mention.
T. gondii infects food animals and many game animal species, Drs. Hill and Dubey note. “Infected animals harbor tissue cysts, and human consumers can be infected by ingestion of these cysts in raw or undercooked meat,” they elaborate, adding that just one (potentially infective) tissue cyst may be present in 100 grams of meat. “A single T. gondii–infected pig can be a source of infection for many people since one market-weight hog (220 pounds or more) can yield over 600 individual servings of meat. Virtually all edible portions of an animal can harbor viable T. gondii tissue cysts, and tissue cysts can survive in live food animals for years.”
Dr. Hill collaborates with H. Ray Gamble, PhD, director of the National Academy of Science’s Fellowships Office, in authoring a Pork Safety Fact Sheet sponsored by the National Pork Board.