Cats poo more dangerous than once thought
New research shows that a paraiste called Toxoplasma gondii is far more dangerous than once thought due to the increase in cat ownership and the rise in feral cats. As a result, this has grave implications for human health and wellbeing.
For a long time it has been known that cats carry a parasite called Toxoplasma gondii and that they shed an embryonic form of the parasite called occysts in their feces. This is dangerous to humans as it can be transferred and converted to create a disease called toxoplasmosis which results in flu like symptoms and muscle pains that can last for months at a time
A new study shows that this parasite is a lot worse than previously thought and more widespread.
Dr. E. Fuller Torrey and Dr. Robert H. Yolken who work at the John Hopkins University medical centre warn that this problem "pose(s) a significant public health hazard,"
What makes cats the main culprits is that Toxoplasma gondii can only reproduce in cats however other animals can still transport it. In cats, the parasite can get out of control. Cats will excrete the occysts for around 8 days. During this course over 810 million of them will come out. They are tough to kill and will remain viable for a year and a half in most cases.
With an increase in cat ownership and feral and stray cats, it has only increased this problem. With over an estimated 2.6 billion pounds of faeces being dropped every year it equates to a high number of the parasite even though just 1% of the cat population is infected.
The researchers did note that indoor cats are less likely to catch it due to not being in contact with wild animals.
As well as the problems it can cause humans, there is now even more worry. Studies have shown that Toxoplasma gondii is linked to problems such as schizophrenia, depression, suicidal behavior, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and brain cancer.
Do not worry too much however. With a healthy body, it is likely that your immune system will be able to deal with the problem in the first place so that it will not spread.
The general advice? When touching a cat, especially cleaning up its poop, always remember to wash your hands afterwards.
Source: The Week