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Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10(3), 994-1005; doi:10.3390/ijerph10030994
Article

Fate and Transport of Toxoplasma gondii Oocysts in Seasonally Snow Covered Watersheds: A Conceptual Framework from a Melting Snowpack to the Canadian Arctic Coasts

1,* , 1
, 2
 and 1,3
1 Groupe de Recherche en Épidémiologie des Zoonoses et Santé Publique, Faculté de Médecine Vétérinaire, Université de Montréal, 3200 Sicotte, CP 5000, Saint-Hyacinthe, J2S 7C6, Québec, Canada 2 Institut National de Recherche Scientifique, Centre Eau Terre Environnement, 490, rue de la Couronne, Québec, G1K 9A9, Québec, Canada 3 Zoonoses Division, Centre for Foodborne, Environmental and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases, Public Health Agency of Canada, 3200 rue Sicotte, Saint-Hyacinthe, J2S 7C6, Québec, Canada
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 25 January 2013 / Revised: 26 February 2013 / Accepted: 4 March 2013 / Published: 11 March 2013
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Determinants of Infectious Disease Transmission)
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Abstract

Toxoplasma gondii is a zoonotic protozoan that causes serious illness in humans and infects animals worldwide, including the Canadian Arctic. Indeed, high prevalence of infection amongst Inuit has been recorded, possibly due to consumption of raw infected seal meat. Here we explore the hypothesis that T. gondii oocysts contaminate the coastal marine environment via surface runoff from across the boreal watershed, particularly during the snowmelt period. We propose a conceptual framework of the different processes governing the fate and transport of T. gondii oocysts from the melting snowpack to the Canadian arctic coast via the freshwater runoff. This framework identifies the feasibility of a transmission pathway of oocysts from contaminated soil to the marine environment, but also the complexity and multiplicity of mechanisms involved. In addition, the framework identifies knowledge gaps for guiding future studies on T. gondii oocysts. Furthermore, this work could be used as a tool to investigate the possible estuarine contamination by other faeces-borne pathogens transported via the spring freshet in seasonally snow covered watersheds.
Keywords: estuary; faeces-borne pathogen; hydrological transport; large-scale dispersion; snowmelt runoff; Toxoplasma gondii; waterborne contamination estuary; faeces-borne pathogen; hydrological transport; large-scale dispersion; snowmelt runoff; Toxoplasma gondii; waterborne contamination
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.

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Simon, A.; Poulin, M.B.; Rousseau, A.N.; Ogden, N.H. Fate and Transport of Toxoplasma gondii Oocysts in Seasonally Snow Covered Watersheds: A Conceptual Framework from a Melting Snowpack to the Canadian Arctic Coasts. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10, 994-1005.

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