You love your cat. But are you aware of the dangers that it may pose to you? If your cat has Toxoplasmosis, he can pass this infection to you and your family. In fact, research suggests that 25 to 30% of the world’s population is infected with Toxoplasmosis.
This condition can cause severe brain damage if left untreated. Here’s what you need to know about the risks involved with this disease. And how to protect yourself if your pet has been diagnosed with it.
What Is Toxoplasmosis?
Toxoplasmosis is a parasitic disease caused by the Toxoplasma gondii parasite.
A cat infected with this parasite may show signs of illness like vomiting, diarrhea, and lethargy. The parasite doesn’t pose many serious health concerns for the pet itself. But it may pass this disease further on to their human parents. It is transmitted to humans through contact with cat feces and eating the undercooked meat.
A person infected with toxoplasmosis may experience swollen lymph nodes, muscle pain, and fatigue. If you’re pregnant or have an impaired immune system, you’re at greater risk of experiencing more severe symptoms. In rare cases, toxoplasmosis can cause death in fetuses or newborns if not treated early in pregnancy.
What Causes Toxoplasmosis?
Toxoplasma gondii is a single-celled microbe that lives in the intestines of cats and other felines. When your cat poops outside of its litter box, you can become infected by accidentally touching the feces or ingesting food or water contaminated with it.
Cats are infected when they eat infected rodents or birds. The bacteria then infect the environment around the cat’s litter box, including your fingers and other household items.
Do not just assume that a regular pet care routine will prevent your cat from getting infected. Your pet needs regular checkups, nutritious food, and a clean environment. Sites like PetCareRx enhance your pet’s life by providing quality services and supplies.
How Does It Spread?
Cats are the primary source of infection. But it can also get infected through:
- From cat to cat – When your cats fight, they might get a bite or scratch on their paws and lick it off. The parasite enters their bloodstream and causes toxoplasmosis. This can happen to you if you don’t wash your hands after handling the litter box. Or if you clean up after your cat’s accidents in the house.
- From contaminated soil – It’s possible to pick up toxoplasmosis from soil contaminated by animal feces. Soil is also an important source of infection for pregnant women who garden bare-handed during pregnancy. It can get into her cuts and scrapes when she digs in the dirt, even if she wears gloves.
- From eating undercooked meat or raw meat products, like poultry and beef – In rare cases, people contract this disease from consuming uncooked contaminated meat products such as pork chops or steaks. But since most people don’t eat raw meat anyway, this isn’t very common.
What Does It Mean for Your Cat?
If your cat has been exposed to the parasite, you may notice that she is showing signs of illness: vomiting, diarrhea, and lethargy. In addition to these symptoms, cats who contract toxoplasmosis might also have swollen glands in their neck region. If left untreated for too long, this infection could lead to blindness or death in your kitty.
Who Is the Most Affected by Toxoplasmosis?
Studies reveal that a pregnant woman in her third trimester is more vulnerable to this disease. The transmission rate at that time varies from 60% to 80%. People with compromised immune systems and cat owners are all at risk.
You can also become infected if you eat raw meat or have been exposed to cat feces. Or if you work in a lab that studies the parasite.
What Are the Symptoms for You?
You may only know that you are infected with toxoplasmosis once you experience symptoms. The most common symptoms of toxoplasmosis are:
- Muscle aches
- Swollen lymph nodes are often found in the neck and under the jawline but can also be distributed throughout the body.
These symptoms can last for weeks or months. And can sometimes become so severe that they require emergency medical attention. In some cases, these signs will clear up within two weeks. However, they can cause severe damage to organs like the liver, heart, and brain if left untreated.
Precautions to Prevent or Avoid It
If you want to avoid getting toxoplasmosis, there are some precautions you can take. For starters, wash your hands after handling cats. Wear gloves when gardening or yard work if cats are around. It’s also important not to eat undercooked meat, especially pork, lamb, beef, or raw eggs. If you eat fish, ensure it is properly cooked before serving.
As you can see, toxoplasmosis is a serious infection that can lead to dire consequences. We hope this article has helped you understand what it is and how it can be prevented or treated. Remember not only to keep your cats indoors but also to keep their litter boxes clean.