Toxoplasma a menace true or false ?
Pictured above: Allied Rock Wallaby Nelly Bay Magnetic Island. Photo Debbie Denison
Is Toxoplasma gondii a threat to the conservation of free-ranging Australian marsupial populations?
. Apparent prevalence of Toxoplasma gongii in Australian marsupial populations varies.
. Frequency of adverse outcomes of T.gondii infection in marsupials is not known.
. Insufficient evidence exists that T. gondii is a threat to marsupial population.
It has often been asserted that Australian marsupial species are particularly susceptible to Toxoplasma gondii infection and to clinical toxoplasmosis following infection.
This implicates T. gondii as a potential threat to marsupial population viability, and contrasts to what is known of T. gondii in populations of several other host species.
We reviewed the literature, and found a lack of scientifically robust evidence addressing the occurrence of T. gondii infection in free-ranging populations of Australian marsupial species, and the impacts of the infection on population health.
Key limitations included a lack of studies in free-ranging marsupial populations, study findings susceptible to substantial chance influences, and selection, misclassification and confounding biases.
The lack of scientifically robust data available on this topic indicates that assertions that free-ranging populations of Australian marsupials are particularly susceptible to T. gondii infection and to toxoplasmosis are premature.
The threat of T. gondii to the viability of free-ranging marsupial populations should therefore be regarded, at this stage, as a hypothesis.