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PROJECT TITLE:

Quantifying Toxoplasmosis Gondii Presence in Wastewater and Freshwater Systems


PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR:

Dr. Christopher Lepczyck, Assistant Professor, Natural Resources and Environmental Management

SPONSOR:

National Institute for Water Resources, Water Resources Research Institute Program

PROJECT PERIOD:

3/1/2013 - 2/28/2014

ABSTRACT:

This proposal addresses the priority issue of Waste Disposal, specifically quantifying the presence of a parasitic disease, toxoplasmosis gondii in streams and wastewater effluent in Hawaii. Toxoplasma gondii is a parasitic protozoan that is shed from the body via oocysts in cat feces and is often consumed by other animal species living on land in the water. Cats, including house cats (Felis catus), are the definitive host. Toxoplasmosis transmission has traditionally been associated with eating uncooked meat or soil, but it can also be acquired by inhalation from dust, soil, or cat litter, and from water contaminated by cat feces. Because Hawaii has a large number of free roaming cats there is a large potential for fecal matter to enter the water system both via overland flow and through the sewage system. Given the human and environmental health concerns associated with Toxoplasmosis, our objective is to determine toxoplasmosis presence and relative abundance in the waste disposal system of Honolulu and freshwater systems of Oahu. By testing both freshwater streams and wastewater plant streams we will be able to provide the first ever assessment of toxoplasmosis in Hawaii’s aquatic systems. This project will provide needed information on the public health and environmental risks associated with this waste product in Hawaiian freshwater systems.

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