Sera (n=328) collected from phocids (1995–97) from the east coast of Canada, including harp seals (Phoca groenlandica), hooded seals (Cystophora cristata), grey seals (Halichoerus grypus), and harbor seals (Phoca vitulina), were diluted 1:25, 1:50, and 1:500 and tested by a modified agglutination test for antibodies to Toxoplasma gondii. Titers equal to or greater than 1:25 were considered evidence of exposure. Grey seal (11/122, 9%), harbor seal (3/34, 9%), and hooded seal (1/60, 2%) had titers of 1:25 and 1:50. Harp seals (n=112) were seronegative. Probable maternal antibody transfer was observed in one harbor and one grey seal pup at 10 and 14 day of age, respectively. Transmission of T. gondii in the marine environment is not understood. The discovery of T. gondii in marine mammals might indicate natural infections unknown because of lack of study or might indicate recent contamination of the marine environment from the terrestrial environment by natural or anthropogenic activities.
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Vol. 40 • No. 2