Reasons to cook meat: Toxoplasma gondii associated with the consumption of lamb meat, Aveyron (France), November 2010

Thanks to our French friend, Albert Amgar, for forwarding this item.

On 15 November 2010, 3 confirmed cases of toxoplasmosis of the same family were reported to the Midi-Pyrénées Regional Health Agency. A collective outbreak of food poisoning was suspected with regard to the single common meal taken on 3 October 2010 that included undercooked lamb’s leg. Clusters of toxoplasmosis cases are rare; therefore, investigations on the episode were conducted.

Epidemiological, clinical and serological data were collected from the participants in the meal. Genotyping of the strain isolated in the suspected food was performed as well as a traceability investigation.

All five sensitive people of the seven persons exposed during the meal had a recent uncomplicated evolutionary toxoplasmosis (attack rate 100 %; mean age 21 years). DNA genotyping in the frozen half lamb’s leg revealed a type II. The farm of origin of the lamb could not be identified.

Our investigations contributed to describe a Toxoplasma food poisoning limited in size, and to determine the origin of the contamination. However, other cases may have gone unnotified, considering the infection is usually asymptomatic. Toxoplasma foodborne illnesses are poorly documented and information on the possibility of contamination due to insufficiently cooked lamb meat should be spread more widely.