Cats, Toxoplasmosis, And You

In recent months, reports have been circulated that seem to indicate that toxoplasmosis can cause things such as brain tumors, schizophrenia and other brain related illnesses. Further, these reports would seem to indicate that your pet cat could be a threat to you in terms of passing this disease to you. Let’s take a closer look at these assertions and see how truly they really are.

What Is Toxoplasmosis

Toxoplasmosis is a parasitic disease. It is caused by a protozoan parasite. The cat is the definitive host of the organism that causes toxoplasmosis, meaning that cats are required for the disease to continue. Cats are most commonly infected by ingesting contaminated soil or eating infected prey.

Pet cats are not the most common source of human toxoplasmosis infections. In fact, you are more likely to become infected through gardening activities or through eating improperly cooked meat or unwashed vegetables. Toxoplasmosis is particularly dangerous for pregnant women, as the disease has the ability to damage the developing fetus. The disease is most dangerous when a woman is infected for the first time during her pregnancy.

Toxoplasmosis is also a risk to individuals who are immunosuppressed, as are many other diseases.

Can Toxoplasmosis Cause Brain Tumors, Schizophrenia Or Other Diseases?

Maybe, maybe not. The truth is we really don’t have a definite answer to that question at this point in time. There have been studies reported in the scientific literature that show a correlation between these conditions and being infected with toxoplasmosis. However, these studies fail to show a direct association between the two.

Though associations have been made, these associations may well be coincidental and there be many other correlations as yet unreported. Toxoplasmosis is a preventable disease. By taking some simple precautions, cat owners and none cat owners can protect themselves against infection with this disease.

How To Prevent Infection

- Cook all meats thoroughly before eating

- Wash all fruits and vegetables thoroughly before eating

- Wear gloves when gardening or working with soil

- Practice good hygiene

- Clean the litter box daily. Freshly deposited feces are not infectious even if contaminated with toxoplasmosis. It takes at least 48 hours for the organism to develop in the feces to the point where it can infect another animal or person

- Wear gloves when maintaining the litter box

- Do not dispose of soiled litter in gardens or other areas of your yard where you recreate

- If you are pregnant, consider asking someone else in the household to maintain the box

- Do not allow your cat to hunt. Keeping you cat indoors is the easiest solution and is better for the cat

- Do not feed your cat raw meat. Just like people, cats can get toxoplasmosis by eating uncooked meat

- Follow a good parasite prevention program for you cat. Remember, toxoplasmosis is not the only parasite that is transmissible to people

Above all, do not panic and feel as though you need to get rid of your cat. Common sense, good sanitary practices and proper pet care should keep you and your family safe from toxoplasmosis.

This Is For Educational Purpose Only

Until next time,
Maralyn,
Benny and Jessie

Posted in: Pets.
Last Modified: March 15, 2012