Preventing the Spread of Toxoplasmosis
Toxoplasmosis is an infectious disease found in some farm animals and household pets. Cats arethe a carrier of the disease and can transmit it to people through feces-especially when fecal material handled or allowed to sit until old and dry. The fecal matter is then either ingested or can become airborne and then is inhaled.
Although cats can transmit the disease, they are not the major sources of infection to humans. People are more likely to pick up toxoplasmosis by handling or eating raw meat or not cleaning up thoroughly after handling the meat.
Cats can get toxoplasmosis from eating raw meat or prey of animals such as mice. Therefore, cats who hunt stand a greater chance of being exposed or infected. In most cases, cats will show no signs of being infected. However, lethargy, loss of appetite, and fever may indicate early infection with the disease.
People who have contracted toxoplasmosis may exhibit mild, flu-like symptoms. However, the problem is more serious for pregnant women or immunocompromised individuals. An unborn child of a woman infected during pregnancy may develop birth defects. Immunocompromised individuals developing toxoplasmosis usually have a reactivation of a previous infection.
You can prevent the spread of toxoplasmosis by following these simple steps:
- Someone other than a pregnant woman or immunocompromised person should clean the litterbox every day. Daily cleaning is important since the feces of an infected cat become infectious after 36-48 hours.
- Wear rubber, disposable gloves when cleaning the litterbox and wash hands thoroughly afterwards.
- Feed cats dry, canned, or thoroughly cooked food, and keep them from hunting.
- Cover children’s sandboxes when not in use and dispose of any contaminated sand.
- Cook meat thoroughly to over 151 degrees Farenheit. Wash your hands and anything else that comes in contact with the raw meat such as cutting boards, knives, and the sink.
- Wear gloves then working in the garden or with soil where cats may have left feces, and wash your hands thoroughly afterwards.
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