Typing of Toxoplasma gondii strains is important in epidemiological surveys, to understand the distribution and virulence of different clones of the parasite among human and animal populations. Stray dogs can be consider sentinel animals for contaminated environments playing an important but probably under- evaluated role in the epidemiology of T. gondii. We reported a rare case of acute toxoplasmosis in a stray dog due to clonal type I infection. The clonal type I, sporadic in Europe, is frequently associated with severe toxoplasmosis in humans and the control of its circulation is particularly relevant for public health. The symptomatology suggested a potential infection with the high similar parasite Neospora caninum but differential diagnosis showed that only T. gondii was involved highlighting the importance of multiple diagnostic methods beyond the clinical signs.
A female stray dog approximately six-month of age presented muscular atrophy of the femoral region and hyperextension of hind limbs. Body condition score (BCS) was 20% below ideal weight, ribs had almost no fat and the sensor state was depressed. Haematological values were normal and the dog did not show any neurological abnormalities. Serological analysis showed a positive response for T. gondii immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibodies and exclude N. caninum infection.
To confirm T. gondii infection, a muscle biopsy was performed and genomic DNA was extracted. PCR analysis resulted positive to T. gondii and strain genotyping reveals clonal type I infection. The dog recovered after 4 weeks of treatment with clindamycin hydrochloride and aquatic physiotherapy.
Our study reports a rare and severe case of T. gondii clonal type I infection in a stray dog feeding in garbage containers. The data confirm the importance of an in vivo early diagnosis for toxoplasmosis in dog. Clinical signs are often related to specific T. gondii genotype and parasite genotyping is important in the epidemiological survey of toxoplasmosis in public health. The detection of parasitic DNA in the tissue could be an useful diagnostic method in facilitating early treatment of the disease, which is important for a timely clinical recovery.