To investigate the potential role of endogenous transplacental transmission of Toxoplasma gondii, 31 seropositive ewes presumed to be persistently infected with the parasite and 15 seronegative ewes were mated and monitored throughout pregnancy and lambing. Antibody titres were determined in precolostral sera from the liveborn lambs and in thoracic fluid from the dead lambs. A pcr for the B1 gene of T gondii was applied to the placentas from all the ewes and to the brains of the stillborn lambs. Samples of brain, lung, liver, spleen and heart from the dead lambs were examined by histopathology. No evidence of toxoplasmosis was detected by histopathology or pcr in any of the samples, but low titres of antibody to T gondii were detected in two liveborn, healthy offspring of a seropositive ewe by the immunofluorescent antibody test (3·2 per cent of pregnancies and 4·1 per cent of lambs in the seropositive group). Antibody to specific antigens of T gondii was demonstrated in sera from these two lambs by Western blotting.
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