Toxoplasmosis is a protozoa that infects almost all mammals, but felines are the primary host. Healthy cats with a positive antibody titer pose little risk to humans. People often hear that they can get toxoplasmosis from their cat but there are other, more common ways, as well. They can get it from handling raw meat and gardening. It is important to follow good hygiene and the recommendations listed below.
- Clean your cat’s litter box daily (scoop the poop). Avoid contact with the litter box if possible when pregnant, or wear gloves. Cats excreting oocysts pose the highest risk, as these are newly infected cats Disinfect litter boxes with boiling water.
- Wear gloves when gardening and cover sand boxes to prevent animals from defecating in them.
- Wash vegetables well before eating to avoid contamination with oocysts in soil.
- Do not feed your pet raw meat.
- Do not handle raw meat, OR use good hygiene when preparing raw meat including washing hands and any surfaces that contact the raw meat.
The oocysts (eggs) need 24 hours to become infective, so it is important to empty litter boxes daily.
Clinical signs can be non-specific and include; weight loss, fever, anorexia, seizures, ataxia, vomiting/diarrhea, respiratory distress, ocular discharge or photophobia (fear of light), uveitis, stillborn kittens. Due to a variety of symptoms, this disease can be difficult to diagnose. Titers can be performed to detect toxoplasmosis. Clindamycin is the medication of choice for treatment. Prognosis is guarded depending on severity of symptoms and response to treatment . Like with most diseases, if caught early, prognosis is more favorable.
- Nichola Gaither, DVM