Role of Urban Mice in Transmission of Toxoplasma Gondii
  Key Words  
  Mus domesticus disease transmission, Toxoplasma gondii
  Gai Murphy, David Oldbury, Jackie Hughes, Geoff Hide, Denise Thomasson and H. Williams
  Toxoplasma gondii is a protozoan parasite capable of infecting most warm blooded animals. The parasite can cause spontaneous abortions and foetal abnormalities and induce serious illness in immuno-compromised patients. Humans are intermediate hosts and can become infected via cat faeces. Previous research confirmed high levels of infection (59%) in urban mice (Mus domesticus) caught in domestic properties in a residential area of Manchester, United Kingdom and concluded that they play an important role in maintaining Toxoplasma infection. This new study aimed to investigate whether this high level of infection was generally found in other urban locations. Traps were laid in a number of UK locations and the 119 mice collected were screened for Toxoplasma. A prevalence of 51% infection was confirmed and this was not significantly different from the levels found in the earlier study confirming that high prevalence of infection is a common feature of urban mice. These findings suggest that urban mice may play an important role in the persistence and transmission of Toxoplasma infection in urban areas. This is significant since, in the UK, little consideration is given to the role of urban mice in the propagation of human pathogens. Their classification as a nuisance rather than a public health pest continues to thwart the implementation of effective control strategies to ameliorate the health threats posed by the presence of mice in urban settings.