This manuscript describes an outbreak of fatal toxoplasmosis in wallabies. Ten adult red necked wallabies (Macropus rufogriseus) were imported from New Zealand to the Virginia Zoo. Agglutination testing upon admission into quarantine showed all animals to be negative for antibodies to Toxoplasma gondii. Nine of these wallabies died from acute toxoplasmosis within 59–565 (average 224) days after being moved onto exhibit. Clinical signs included lethargy, diarrhea, tachypnea, and ataxia that progressed rapidly; death without premonitory signs occurred in one case. Histopathologic examination revealed interstitial pneumonia, encephalomyelitis, myositis, enteritis, and myocarditis. The diagnosis was confirmed through serologic, histopathologic, and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing. Multilocus PCR-RFLP (restriction fragment length polymorphism) genotyping revealed that the first six animals were infected by a previously undiscovered Toxoplasma gondii genotype, designated as ToxoDB PCR-RFLP genotype No. 263. These six cases survived for an average of 118 days on exhibit before succumbing to toxoplasmosis. The other three wallabies were infected with a Toxoplasma gondii strain of ToxoDB PCR-RFLP genotype No. 4, which is a common strain type circulating in wild animals in North America. These three cases survived for an average of 435 days on exhibit before succumbing to toxoplasmosis. The outbreaks of toxoplasmosis in these wallabies are likely from two different sources. Furthermore, the results highlight Toxoplasma gondii PCR-RFLP genotyping in parasite diagnosis and understanding parasite transmission and potential mitigation procedures.
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