Clustering of Toxoplasma gondii Infections Within Families of Congenitally Infected Infants

Despina Contopoulos-Ioannidis, Kelsey M. Wheeler, Raymund Ramirez, Cindy Press, Ernest Mui, Ying Zhou, Christine Van Tubbergen, Sheela Prasad, Yvonne Maldonado, Shawn Withers, Kenneth M. Boyer, A. Gwendolyn Noble, Peter Rabiah, Charles N. Swisher, Peter Heydemann, Kristen Wroblewski, Theodore Karrison, Michael E. Grigg, Jose G. Montoya, Rima McLeod*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Background. Family clusters and epidemics of toxoplasmosis in North, Central, and South America led us to determine whether fathers of congenitally infected infants in the National Collaborative Chicago-Based Congenital Toxoplasmosis Study (NCCCTS) have a high incidence of Toxoplasma gondii infection. Methods. We analyzed serum samples collected from NCCCTS families between 1981 and 2013. Paternal serum samples were tested for T. gondii antibodies with immunoglobulin (Ig) G dye test and IgM enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Additional testing of paternal serum samples was performed with differential-agglutination and IgG avidity tests when T. gondii IgG and IgM results were positive and serum samples were collected by the 1-year visit of the congenitally infected child. Prevalence of paternal seropositivity and incidence of recent infection were calculated. We analyzed whether certain demographics, maternal parasite serotype, risk factors, or maternal/infant clinical manifestations were associated with paternal T. gondii infection status. Results. Serologic testing revealed a high prevalence (29 of 81; 36%) of T. gondii infection in fathers, relative to the average seropositivity rate of 9.8% for boys and men aged 12-49 years in the United States between 1994 and 2004 (P <. 001). Moreover, there was a higher-than-expected incidence of recent infections among fathers with serum samples collected by the 1-year visit of their child (6 of 45; 13%; P <. 001). No demographic patterns or clinical manifestations in mothers or infants were associated with paternal infections, except for sandbox exposure. Conclusions. The high prevalence of chronic and incidence of recent T. gondii infections in fathers of congenitally infected children indicates that T. gondii infections cluster within families in North America. When a recently infected person is identified, family clustering and community risk factors should be investigated for appropriate clinical management.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1815-1824
Number of pages10
JournalClinical Infectious Diseases
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 15 2015


  • Toxoplasma gondii
  • clusters
  • congenital infections
  • toxoplasmosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases


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