One of the most important routes of transmission for Toxoplasma gondii infection is the ingestion of foods contaminated with cat feces containing sporulated oocysts. The diagnosis of T. gondii infection by fecal microscopy is complicated, as other similar coccidian oocysts are often present in the same fecal specimen. This study aimed to identify T. gondii oocysts in cat feces using a novel PCR technique. Feline fecal specimens (n = 254) were screened for coccidian oocysts by light microscopy using the Sheather's flotation method. PCR analysis performed on the same specimens targeted a 529 bp repeat element and internal transcribed spacer-1 (ITS-1) regions were used to confirm the presence of Toxoplasma oocysts. By light microscopy, 49/254 (19.3%) of specimens contained coccidian oocysts. PCR analysis demonstrated 2/254 (0.8%) and 17/254 (6.7%) positive results using Tox and ITS-1 primers, respectively. However, coccidian oocysts were not identified on microscopic examination of specimens that were PCR-positive by Tox primers. Coccidian oocysts were identified on microscopic examination of 6/17 (35.3%) of the PCR-positive fecal specimens using ITS-1 primers. The BLAST results of 16 ITS-1 sequences were identified as T. gondii (n = 12; 4.7%) and Hammondia hammondi (n = 4; 1.6%). There was slight agreement between the 529 bp and ITS-1 PCR results (κ = 0.148). This is the first report of the detection of Toxoplasma oocysts using PCR analysis on feline fecal specimens from Southern Thailand. The ITS-1 region has potential as an alternative marker to identify T. gondii oocysts in feline fecal specimens.
* Title and MeSH Headings from MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.