Worried about Toxoplasmosis? Find out more about the disease in our short guide.

What is Toxoplasmosis?

Toxoplasmosis is a disease caused by a parasite known as Toxoplasma gondii. As it is a disease that can affect unborn babies, many pregnant women are understandably concerned.

Recent studies suggest that, while cats are involved in part of the parasite's life cycle, human contact with cats does not increase the risk of infection to humans.

How can I tell if my cat is infected?

Cats usually become infected with the parasite through eating infected raw or undercooked meat, including rodents. After a cat has consumed the meat, it starts shedding particles called 'oocysts' in its faeces. The cat's immune system acts quickly and stops the parasite from reproducing.

Blood tests can be done to check whether or not your cat has been exposed to Toxoplasma. Speak to your vet, who will be able to advise.

The effects of Toxoplasmosis in humans

Human infection with T gondii is very common and can be picked up through eating undercooked meat, or unwashed fruit and vegetables. This infection usually goes unnoticed, or appears as mild flu symptoms.

However,for people with an impaired immune system, like those suffering from AIDS or the young or very elderly, the infection can be more serious. If a previously unexposed woman becomes infected during pregnancy, her unborn baby may be at risk, although this is rare.

As always, it is important to practice good hygiene when looking after your cat and preparing food, to eliminate the spread of any diseases.

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