Toxoplasma gondii is a single-celled parasite that infects cats that have eaten already infected prey or other raw meat. As the parasite develops in the cat, it will release eggs (oocysts) through the cat’s feces. These eggs are not immediately infectious to other animals and humans. The oocysts only become infectious after they become spores. Humans and other animals are infected if the spores are ingested. Cats, other animals, and humans will rarely show any clinical symptoms from the infection. Occasionally, however, clinical disease—toxoplasmosis—occurs.
There is a common misconception that pregnant women and immunodeficient individuals must get rid of their beloved cat due to fear of toxoplasmosis. While this once was the recommended precaution, the Center for Disease Control no longer advises this course of action. According to Cornell University, people in the US are much more likely to become infected through eating raw meat and unwashed fruits and vegetables than from handling cat feces.
If you are pregnant or immunodeficient, there are a few simple preventive steps you can take with your cat to reduce your risk of becoming infected with Toxoplamsa. Make sure someone in your household (not yourself), cleans the litter box daily and washes with boiling or scalding water. Do not let your cat hunt or roam nor use your garden or children’s play area as their litter box. Finally, wash your hands after touching raw meat, soil, and before you eat.
Dr. Susan Bonilla is the owner of Passionate Paws Animal Hospital in Waxhaw, offering traditional and complementary treatment options. She is certified in acupuncture, chiropractic, and physical therapy. You can reach her at 704-256-7576 or e-mail at Hello@PassionatePaws.Vet
Grooming Tip of the Week
Regular nail trims support good health for your dog, reducing the potential for broken and torn nails, arthritis, and other muscle and joint injuries. Depending on how fast your dog’s nails grow you may need to have them trimmed every two weeks to ensure your dog has the shortest nails possible. When your dog goes too long between trims, the quick, or vein in the nail, grows along with the nail and makes it harder to trim them back to a healthy length. Regular nail trims push the quick back, allowing for a groomer to get the nails real short and keep your dog healthy.