Monday, March 1, 2010

Common Questions About Toxoplasmosis

What is toxoplasmosis?
It's a common infection caused by the tiny one-celled parasite Toxoplasma gondii (T. gondii), and it can occur in most warm-blooded animals.
How do cats become infected with T. gondii?
Cats become infected by eating prey, like rodents or birds, or raw or undercooked meat contaminated with T. gondii. Find out the signs of infection.

Can I get toxoplasmosis from an infected cat?
Yes, but not very easily, and not through direct contact with a cat. Because infected cats shed the T. gondii eggs in their feces, you can only catch toxoplasmosis by ingesting their feces or something contaminated with their feces. And once the eggs are passed, which occurs within 2 to 3 weeks of initial exposure, the cat is never contagious again.

How else might I become infected?
Three more common causes of infection include:

Eating contaminated raw or undercooked meat or contaminated fruits and vegetables
Drinking contaminated water
Gardening in contaminated soil and then touching your mouth
Do I need to give away my cat if I'm pregnant?
No, there's no need to give up your kitty or avoid other kitties. But because a woman initially exposed to toxoplasmosis during pregnancy can put her unborn child at risk for serious health issues later in life, delegate "doodie" duties while pregnant. Immunocompromised people should also hand off this chore. If that's not possible, there's another solution: Simply wear rubber gloves and wash your hands thoroughly after handling the litter box.

How can I protect myself against toxoplasmosis infection?
That's easy. You can greatly reduce your chances of infection by wearing gloves during, and then washing hands after, gardening, cleaning the cat box, or handling raw meat. Learn more about protecting yourself from infection.

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