BackgroundConcerning the infection of humans by T. gondii, limited efforts have been directed to the elucidation of the role of horizontal transmission between hosts. One of the main routes of transmission from animals to humans occurs through the ingestion of raw or insufficiently cooked meat. However, even though the detection of T. gondii in meat constitutes an important short-term measure, control strategies can only be accomplished by a deeper understanding of the epidemiology of toxoplasmosis. The present study aimed to investigate the seroprevalence of toxoplasmosis in cattle from Zona da Mata, Minas Gerais, Brazil, and to identify associated risk factors, through an epidemiological investigation.MethodsThe animals studied (Bos indicus, breed Nelore or Gir) were reared in the Zona da Mata micro-region and killed at a commercial slaughterhouse at Juiz de Fora, Minas Gerais state. The animals came from 53 cattle farms with extensive (predominantly pasture feeding management) or semi-intensive (food management based on grazing, salt mineral and feed supplementation) rearing systems. Blood samples were collected from 1200 animals, and assigned to Indirect Fluorescent Antibody Test.ResultsWhen analyzing IgG anti-T.gondii we found an overall seroprevalence of 2.68%. In Brazil prevalences vary from 1.03% to 60%. Although in the present study, the seroprevalence per animal is considered low compared to those observed in other studies, we found out that of the 53 farms analyzed, 17 (34.69%) had one or more positive cattle. It is a considerable percentage, suggesting that the infection is well distributed through the Zona da Mata region. The results of the epidemiological investigation showed that the main risk factors of Toxoplasma gondii infection are related to animal management and to the definive host. There was a relationship between the number of seropositive cattle and the presence and number of resident cats, presence and number of stray cats, presence of cats walking freely, rat control by using cats and feed storage.ConclusionThese results may contribute to the development of preventive strategies in Brazil and other developing countries were extensive and semi-intensive cattle rearing systems are very widespread and the efforts to control this important zoonotic disease have attained little success.