BACKGROUND: Over 70% of the worlds' population is infected by Toxoplasma gondii; a pathogen capable of causing cerebral toxoplasmosis in HIV patients and neonatal complications like miscarriage, chorioretinitis, hydrocephalus, cerebral calcification and foetal death in the third trimester of pregnancy. In spite of this, the burden of this zoonotic pathogen is poorly understood in Nigeria. The aim of the present study therefore, is to determine the burden of T. gondii among normal individuals, HIV patients and pregnant women as well as the distribution of the infection across Nigeria.
METHODS: Using the PRISMA guidelines, we conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of data retrieved from six electronic databases (AJOL, Google Scholar, PubMed, Scopus, Science Direct and Web of Science). Pooled prevalence (PP) and heterogeneity were determined by the random-effects model and the Cochran's Q-test respectively. The quality of each study and publication bias were assessed by the 9 point Joanna Briggs Institute Critical Appraisal Instrument and the Egger's regression asymmetry test respectively, while the robustness of a pooled estimate was tested by the single study omission analysis.
RESULTS: Exactly 5834 of the 16,230 individuals examined for T. gondii infection by 50 studies across 17 Nigerian States were positive for the infection. Overall PP was 32.92% (95% CI: 27.89, 38.37), with a range of 14.41% (95% CI: 5.32, 33.54) to 86.82% (95% CI: 66.13, 95.69) across sub-groups. Pooled prevalence was significantly higher (p < 0.001) among pregnant women (40.25%; 95% CI: 33.19, 47.73) and HIV patients (31.68, 95% CI: 20.53, 45.41) than normal individuals (23.32, 95% CI: 17.25, 30.75). T. gondii prevalence declined by over 58% during the 59 years reviewed.
CONCLUSION: Toxoplasma gondii infection is moderately prevalent in Nigeria. Highest prevalence estimates were observed among pregnant women and in the south-south region. For effective control of the disease in Nigeria, a holistic approach involving on-farm, environmental, public health and animal components are suggested.
Keywords: Geographical distribution HIV patients Normal individuals Pregnant women Prevalence Toxoplasma gondii