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What is toxoplasmosis in cats and why is it dangeorous?

Updated on October 29, 2007

Toxoplasmosis is a disease that is common for cats and other mammals and it is caused by Toxoplasma Gondii or a parasitic protozoan. Cats (both domesticated and wild) are the primary source of toxoplasmosis but what is more important they are most commonly not only the primary source of infection but also they can be the source of transmission of toxoplasmosis.

Since toxoplasmosis can cause birth defects in children, some pregnant women feel it is essential they get rid off their domesticated cats. However that should not be necessary as you can safeguard both your cat and your unborn child against this disease. Most commonly cats get infected by toxoplasmosis by eating prey that has been contaminated with the disease or by eating contaminated soil.

To protect yourself from contracting toxoplasmosis you should avoid raw meat and preparing raw meat, which is the most common ways humans get toxoplasmosis. Wash all the utensils that you have used on raw meat as well as cutting boards. If you are a gardener wear gloves when working in the garden to avoid contracting toxomplasmosis through dirt. Also wash your hands thoroughly afterwards. Some people naturally become immune to toxoplasmosis so it would be best to ask your doctor to check if you belong to that group. If you are on the cat litter cleaning duty the best would be to avoid it altogether and have another family member do it while you are pregnant. If that is impossible wear disposable gloves every time you clean the cat litter and wash your hands thoroughly when you are done.

How to know if your cat has toxoplasmosis? While many cats do not show the symptoms of being infected with Toxoplasma, sometimes they can develop full blown toxoplasmosis. Lethargy, loss of appetite and fever are some of the early symptoms. Then come the difficulties with breathing and respiratory system and pneumonia. Some of the other symptoms also include inflammation of liver, pancreas and enlargement of lymph nodes. To make sure your cat does not have toxoplasmosis you will have to take it to the vet and have it checked out. With cat's medical history, any possible signs of illness and laboratory tests your vet will be able to determine if your cat has toxoplasmosis or that it has been exposed to it but is now immune. The good news is even if your cat has toxoplasmosis it can be treat, most commonly with sulfadiazine and pyrimethamine, which are used combined. If you are expecting and you are worried about toxoplasmosis you should visit your doctor and have a check up. In case you are worried your cat might be the carrier have the cat checked up as well. To prevent contracting toxoplasmosis even if both you and your cat are ok, avoid handling and eating raw meat, gardening without your gloves and cat litter duty. Make a habit of washing your hands thoroughly if any of these things cannot be avoided.

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