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Preventing Toxoplasmosis in Cats and Humans

Jul 22, 2008
There are a few precautionary steps you can take to protect both you and your cat from toxoplasmosis infection. There are no sure things, but every effort you make may help.

Toxoplasmosis is a disease caused by a single-celled parasite known as Toxoplasma gondii (T. gondii). Both domestic and wild felines are the definitive hosts for T. gondii, which means that the cat is the only animal in which the organism reaches sexual maturity. Both cats and humans may become infected by coming in contact with it.

Statistics show that Toxoplasma may be carried by up to 80 percent of the population in some parts of the world. As many as 60 million Americans may be infected. Patients who display Toxoplasmosis symptoms, however, are relatively rare and may be mild. Few people in otherwise good health seek treatment. Infected cats may not show any signs of the disease.

In underdeveloped countries, walking on infected soil with unprotected feet is a factor. For the most part, though, the primary risk factor is from eating undercooked or raw meat.

Below are a few of the things you can do to prevent contracting toxoplasmosis yourself.

Do not eat raw or undercooked meat. If you touch raw meat, do not touch your face.

Make sure that you wash your cutting boards, utensils, hands, and sink with soap and warm water after food preparation.

Wash all raw vegetables and fruits thoroughly.

Turn over litter box duties to another person if you're pregnant.

Ensure that the litter box is cleaned at least once per day or more in order to dispose of cat feces before it becomes infective.

If you clean the cat box yourself, wear a mask and disposable rubber gloves and avoid breathing the dust. Wash your hands after cleaning the box.

While outdoors, avoid sandboxes as cats may use them as litter boxes.

While gardening, wear gloves and keep your hands away from your face until you wash them.

Avoid drinking unpasteurized milk products, especially goat's milk.

Here are some things you can do to help keep your cat from being exposed to the disease.

Never feed undercooked or raw meat to your cat.

Make your cat an indoor cat to prevent her from hunting birds or rodents that might be carrying the disease.

Keep your cat inside to prevent it from coming in contact with contaminated soil, plants, or insects.
About the Author
For more details on toxoplasmosis symptoms including a longer version of this article, see Kurt Schmitt's website for cat lovers
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