Cat Toxoplasmosis: Prevention for Cats and Humans

March 2, 2013

in Cats

by Kurt Schmitt

Preventing toxoplasmosis infection involves some simple precautionary steps for both you and your cat. While there’s no guarantee that you or your cat won’t get it, every step you take 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.

The Centers for Disease Control reports that the Toxoplasma parasite may infect as many as 60 million people in the United States. Worldwide estimates are that up to 80 percent of some areas of the world may have it. Toxoplasmosis symptoms, however, are relatively rare, causing few people to seek treatment. Cats that are infected may or may not show signs of the disease.

Eating raw or undercooked meat is the primary culprit, but there are other risk factors as well. In third world countries, walking barefoot on infected soil is a major risk factor.

There are a number of things you can do to prevent both cat and human toxoplasmosis infections. Below are a few of them.

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

Ensure that you thoroughly clean your utensils, hands, cutting boards, and sink with soap and warm water after preparing food.

All raw vegetables and fruits need to be thoroughly washed.

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

Have the litter box cleaned at least once per day or more. Bag and remove cat feces quickly before it becomes infective.

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

Always avoid sandboxes since roaming cats may defecate in them.

Wear gloves when gardening. Keep your hands away from your eyes, mouth, and nose. Wash your hands when finished.

Do not drink unpasteurized dairy products, especially goat’s milk.

Here are some things you can do to help prevent your cat from contracting 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 indoors in order to keep her away from contaminated soil, plants, or insects.

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