WHAT IS IT?
Toxoplasmosis was discovered in 1908. According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control), “toxoplasmosis is considered to be a leading cause of death attributed to foodborne illness in the United States. More than 60 million men, women, and children in the U.S. carry the Toxoplasma parasite, but very few have symptoms because the immune system usually keeps the parasite from causing illness.” Almost one-third of all adults in the U.S. have antibodies to the parasite Toxoplasma gondii, which indicates that they have been exposed to the parasite. Most adults do not show any signs and require no treatment for the parasite; however, children are very susceptible.
HOW IS IT TRANSMITTED?
- Consumption of undercooked or raw meats.
- A mother is infected and transfers it to her unborn child.
- Ingestion of the parasite from dirt in which cats have defecated or food or water that is contaminated.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?
Some cases present with blurred vision or blindness, but this is not as common. These symptoms can apply to other diseases as well, so be sure to see your doctor for a diagnosis.
People who have compromised immune systems, due to cancer or HIV, for example, will require treatment. Children who have become infected may suffer from blindness and brain damage, although this is not common. Symptoms usually appear 1 to 2 weeks after exposure, but 80-90% of adults never show any signs.
HOW TO PREVENT TOXOPLASMOSIS
- Wash all vegetables and fruits.
- Wash hands thoroughly after working outside.
- Keep the counters and sinks well washed.
- Always make sure meat is totally cooked.
- Wash hands and arms after working outside.
- Change cat litter daily.
Does My Cat Have It?
Cats get toxoplasmosis from eating infected rodents, birds or anything contaminated with fecal material from another infected cat. Cats rarely show signs, so it is hard to tell if they are infected. Keep your cat inside so it does not have the chance of picking up the infection. Feeding your cat raw meat could also be a source of infection, so as for us do not feed uncooked meat to your cat.
SOME IMPORTANT FACTS TO KNOW
Cats are the only animal that will pass infective Toxo parasites with their feces. Fortunately, they usually only do this once in their lifetime, over a course of 2 – 3 weeks. Also, after the parasite passes, it takes 1 – 5 days before it is capable of causing a new infection to an animal or person. However, it can remain viable to a potential source for months, in places like soil, water, sandboxes or gardens. So with those facts in mind, and if the litter box is cleaned daily the very little likelihood of danger from a cat in the house. Pregnant women need not give up their cat, at worse, they might designate another house member to scoop the litter box.