Toxoplasma gondii is a protozoan parasite that infects humans and other warm-blooded animals; it uses feral and domestic cats as the definitive hosts. Neospora caninum is a protozoan parasite of animals whose life cycle is very similar to T. gondii but uses canids as definitive hosts. Small rodents play an important role in the life cycle of T. gondii, and a few findings indicated that they may be natural intermediate hosts for N. caninum. The present study was aimed at identifying infections by T. gondii and N. caninum in urban rodents. Infections by T. gondii were quantified using isolation of the parasite by bioassay in mice; molecular methods were also used for both parasites. Overall, 217 rodents were captured. Brain and heart tissues of all rodents were bioassayed in mice for the detection of T. gondii infection. Brain and heart tissues of 121 rodents had the DNA extracted for molecular analysis. Toxoplasma gondii was isolated by bioassay from a single rodent. From the 121 rodents tested for the presence of T. gondii DNA, 2 animals were positive. In contrast, DNA of N. caninum was not detected in any of the samples. In conclusion, the surveys of N. caninum and T. gondii infection in Rattus rattus, Rattus norvegicus, and Mus musculus captured in urban areas of São Paulo reveal a striking low frequency of occurrence of these infections.
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Vol. 98 • No. 1