Because it is widely believed that cats can cause various problems during pregnancy, leading to miscarriage or stillbirth, many cat or dog owners abandon their companions permanently or try to give them away for a certain period of time when they find out that they are pregnant. In the case of toxoplasmosis, which is thought to be transmitted mainly by cats, blaming cats is one of the last things that should be done.
How is Toxoplasmosis Transmitted?
Toxoplasmosis infection is caused by a parasite called Toxoplasma gondii. The parasite can only reproduce in the intestine of domestic cats, with males and females coming together. The reproduced parasites are excreted in the cat’s feces and transmitted to other living organisms through the digestive tract. In other words, in order for the parasite to be transmitted to other living organisms, it must be ingested orally.
Cats get the parasite when they eat an infected animal (such as a mouse) raw. Parasites excreted in feces need to spend 24 hours in the outside world to become infectious. A cat with the parasite excretes the parasite in its feces for about 2-3 weeks, after which it becomes immune and never gets infected with toxoplasma again. The same is true for humans: once infected, a person will not get the same infection again.
Stray cats get this infection at a very early age and become immune to it. It is therefore unlikely to pass through large stray cats. The risk of infection is also very low in indoor cats that never leave the house and are fed only dry food and no raw meat. That’s why;
- If a person comes into contact with the feces of an infected animal and puts his/her hand to his/her mouth without washing it,
- Eating meat from an infected animal without cooking it thoroughly,
- If a person eats food that contains the parasite without washing it thoroughly, infection can occur.
Symptoms and Diagnosis
Toxoplasmosis infection usually has no obvious symptoms and is usually treated as a mild cold. Symptoms disappear spontaneously within a few weeks to a few months. A person is infected with toxoplasmosis if antibodies produced by the immune system against this parasite are detected in the blood. Antibiotics are used as a treatment method in non-pregnant people, but it is not predictable whether antibiotics can prevent damage to the baby in pregnant women. If severe sequelae are detected in the baby, termination of pregnancy may be considered.