Quantitative Risk Assessment of Oocyst Versus Bradyzoite Foodborne Transmission of Toxoplasma gondii in Brazil

Sophie Zhu, Elizabeth VanWormer, Beatriz Martínez-López, Lílian Maria Garcia Bahia-Oliveira, Renato Augusto DaMatta, Pedro Souto Rodrigues, Karen Shapiro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Toxoplasma gondii is a globally distributed zoonotic protozoan parasite. Infection with T. gondii can cause congenital toxoplasmosis in developing fetuses and acute outbreaks in the general population, and the disease burden is especially high in South America. Prior studies found that the environmental stage of T. gondii, oocysts, is an important source of infection in Brazil; however, no studies have quantified this risk relative to other parasite stages. We developed a Bayesian quantitative risk assessment (QRA) to estimate the relative attribution of the two primary parasite stages (bradyzoite and oocyst) that can be transmitted in foods to people in Brazil. Oocyst contamination in fruits and greens contributed significantly more to overall estimated T. gondii infections than bradyzoite-contaminated foods (beef, pork, poultry). In sensitivity analysis, treatment, i.e., cooking temperature for meat and washing efficiency for produce, most strongly affected the estimated toxoplasmosis incidence rate. Due to the lack of regional food contamination prevalence data and the high level of uncertainty in many model parameters, this analysis provides an initial estimate of the relative importance of food products. Important knowledge gaps for oocyst-borne infections were identified and can drive future studies to improve risk assessments and effective policy actions to reduce human toxoplasmosis in Brazil.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number870
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2023


  • Toxoplasma gondii
  • bradyzoite
  • foodborne pathogen
  • oocyst
  • quantitative risk assessment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Molecular Biology
  • General Immunology and Microbiology
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases


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