The Journal of Advances in Parasitology

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Short Communication


First and Preliminary Report on Seroprevalence of Toxopalsma gondii in Sheep and Goats at Al-Baha Province, Southwest Saudi Arabia


Khaled Sultan1,2*, Mohammed Elfehid3, Abdelatiff Alwazan3, Fawaz Alghamdi4, Haneen Abugasmeen1, Ibrahim Eldesouky1,5

1Veterinary Diagnostic Lab, Al-Baha, Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture (MEWA), Al-Aqiq Road, Al-Baha, Saudi Arabia; 2Department of Parasitology, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Kafrelsheikh University, 33516 Kafr El-Sheikh, Egypt; 3MEWA, 65 King Abdulaziz Road, Riyadh, 11195, Saudi Arabia; 4MEWA, Al-Baha branch, King Abdulaziz Road, Al-Baha, 65528, Saudi Arabia; 5Department of Bacteriology, Mycology and Immunology, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Kafrelsheikh University, 33516 Kafr El-Sheikh, Egypt.


Abstract | Toxopalsmosis is a serious protozoan disease of both medical and veterinary significance. Scanty data exists about its incidence in small ruminants in Saudi Arabia. The main aim of this study was to evaluate the Toxoplasma gondii infection in sheep and goats in Al-Baha Province, KSA. One-hundred sixty serum samples (109 sheep and 51 goats) were tested for detecting the antibodies to T. gondii infection using ELISA. The frequency of T. gondii infection in all tested animals was 20.625%. Among tested sheep 20.183%, while 21.56% of tested goats were seropositive respectively. Al-Mandaq region recorded the highest prevalence. Although this work is a preliminary, nevertheless a significant existence of toxoplasmosis in small ruminants in the study area is detected. This prevalence reflects a problem of both economic and public health concern and requires implantation of effective control programs as well as further studies and continuous monitoring of toxoplasmosis status in small ruminants in the region.


Keywords | Toxoplasmosis, Sheep, Goat, iELISA, Saudi Arabia


Editor | Muhammad Imran Rashid, Department of Parasitology, University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences, Lahore, Pakistan.

Received | December 04, 2020; Accepted | December 26, 2020; Published | December 30, 2020

*Correspondence | Khaled Sultan. Veterinary Diagnostic Lab, Al-Baha, Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture (MEWA), Al-Aqiq Road, Al-Baha, Saudi Arabia; Email:

Citation | Sultan K, Elfehid M, Alwazan A, Alghamdi F, Abugasmeen H, Eldesouky I (2020). First and preliminary report on seroprevalence of toxopalsma gondii in sheep and goats at al-baha province, southwest saudi arabia. J. Adv. Parasitol. 7(4): 26-28.


ISSN | 2311-4096

Copyright © 2020 Sultan et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.




Toxoplasmosis is a major protozoan disease of small ruminants worldwide. Moreover, it is a serious public health problem. The life cycle of Toxoplasma gondii is complicated. Cats are the known definitive hosts, while other warm-blooded animals as well as humans are considered as intermediate hosts. The infection of intermediate hosts takes place mainly by ingestion of sporulated oocysts with contaminated feed, water and even milk. Abortions, delivery problems, and weak births are the main consequences of T. gondii infection in small ruminants. Those results in significant economic losses. Nevertheless, humans can acquire T. gondii infection from raw or inadequately cooked infected animals (i.e. sheep or goat) meat and milk (Dubey, 2009; Ismail et al., 2016).


Cats are the main definitive host for toxoplasmosis. Mohammed et al. (2009) examined 200 serum samples of stray and household cats in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, for T. gondii antibodies, the overall seroprevalence was 26%. Also, examination of 100 fecal samples from cats revealed an overall prevalence of 12% of T. gondii oocycts. This indicates persistence of infection and completing the parasite transmission cycle in-between cats and intermediate hosts including food animals. Also, humans in Saudi Arabia can acquire infection (Bin Dajem et al., 2012).


Diagnosis of toxoplasmosis in animals depends mainly on serological tests to detect specific antibodies against T. gondii (Nagaty et al., 2009). Many serological testes have been adapted to diagnose such infection. Latex agglutination, indirect fluorescent antibody technique and indirect enzyme linked immunosorbent assay (iELISA) are the most popular serological tests. With advantage to the later test “iELISA”, as it is a highly specific and sensitive diagnostic and has minimal or no false positive results (Dubey, 2009; Nagaty et al., 2009; OIE, 2009).


Few publications are available in the literature that address the existence of toxoplasmosis in small ruminants in Saudi Arabia. Therefore, the objective of the current study was to detect the seroprevalence of T. gondii infection in sheep and goats in Al-Baha region.




Study Area

Al-Baa is the name of the province as well its main city, situated in the northwestern part of Saudi Arabia. This region is situated in the Hejaz, between longitudes 41/42 E and latitudes 19/20 N. The region covers an area about 36,000 km². Sheep and goat populations in Al-Baha province estimated in 2015 to be as 227.982 and 114.409 head respectively. Small ruminants have a significant contribution in the province economy (Saudi General Authority of Statics, 2015).



Study samples were collected by veterinarians for the lab to diagnose of an existing problem in animal/herd. A total of 160 serum samples (109 sheep and 51 goat) collected from sheep and goats reared at Al-Baha province with history of abortion during the period between October 2019 and September 2020 from four regions including Al-Baha, Al-Aqiq, Al-Mandaq and Balgurashi.


Serological test

A Commercial kit was used in the current work. iELISA: Toxoplasma gondii Antibody Test Kit, IDEXX Toxotest, (Lot SN. P721, IDEXX Switzerland GmbH, Switzerland). Test procedures were done according to the manufacturer recommendations.


Statistical analysis

Data were computed using EXCEL statistical analysis software on Microsoft 10 package.




Results are summarized in Tables 1 and 2. In the current work, 20.625% of the tested animals sera were positive for


Table 1: Seroprevalence of toxoplasmosis in sheep and goats in Al-Baha Province, Saudi Arabia


  Goat Sheep Total
No. 51 109 160
*Positive 11 22 33
*Negative 40 85 125
*Suspect - 2 2

Positive, negative and suspect was calculated as kit recommendation, with retesting of the suspect.


Table 2: Prevalence of toxoplasmosis in sheep and goats according to the region inside Al-Baha Province. Numbers in brackets indicate the positive samples


  Al-Aqiq Al-Baha Al-Mandaq Belgurashi
Sheep 21 (3) 32 (3) 52 (15) 4 (1)
Goat 21 (1) 11 (0) 18 (10) 1 (0)
Total 42 (4) 43 (3) 70 (25) 5 (1)


toxoplasma-antibodies. This percent not so variant from those recorded previously in Saudi Arabia (15.4%) by Ismael et al. (2016). But lower than reported in goats (51%) in Tabouk, Saudi Arabia by Sanad and Al-Ghabban (2007). Also, lower than reporting in Iraq (32.8%) by Al-Dabagh et al. (2004) and in Tunisian sheep and goats (40.2, 34.5% respectively) as reported by Lahmar et al. (2015). Izadyar et al. (2019) stated that toxoplasmosis prevalence in sheep and goats in Iran was 33.62 and 36.41% respectively. In fact, the variation in-between our results and other studies might be contributed to many factors. Such as sample size, techniques used for examination, rearing/mangemental, risk factors, environmental and geographic factors. With absence of an effective commercial vaccine against T. gondii yet and no specific therapeutics against such infection in small ruminants, toxoplasmosis is a major thread of small ruminants (Innes et al., 2009).


Our report here is just a preliminary report attracting the attention to such a problem. Further and in-depth studies should be performed. This is the first report on small ruminants toxoplasmosis in this area. Further studies on the prevalence and risk factors of toxoplasmosis in animals and human should continue. Also, implantation of proper control program should be considered.




Authors are grateful to all veterinarians in Al-Baha Animal Wealth branch, MEWA for their sincere help and support during this study.


Conflict of interest


Authors declare no conflict of interest.


Authors Contribution


ME, AA, FA, HA, IE, KS shared equally in the study concept and design. ME, FA approved the study. KS, IE performed laboratory procedures. KS wrote the manuscript draft. HE, IE revised the draft.




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