Cats and Toxoplasmosis

Advice 101 - with a kitten sitting in a pink stiletto

I came across a report published in Arch Gen Psychiatry, "Tosoplasma gondii Infection and Self-Directed Violence in Mothers" which is an example of the bad journalism that is rampant on the internet and as seen on CNN Health, NPR.org and TIME.

The T. Gondii Study

The actual study does not suggest that cats cause women to commit suicide. In fact, other studies have shown quite the contrary, that cats and other pets are good for our self-esteem, lower our blood pressure, help us recover from health issues, reduce our stress, and give many people something to live for. People, including women and children, who might benefit from having a cat could be harmed from this inaccurate yellow journalism.

Toxoplasmosis - Truth

The truth is that cats as felines do shed in their feces the T.gondii parasite's eggs, but only a few days out of a cat's ENTIRE lifetime. So the chances of contracting the infection from a cat's feces are very slim to none. Additionally, it takes at least 24 hours for the eggs to become infectious after the cat defecates, so if the owner cleans the litter box every day, they further reduce the chances of contracting Toxoplasmosis from the cat's feces. To become infected with Toxoplasmosis, your hands would have to come into actual contact with the feces and then you would have to handle food without washing your hands. I don't know about you, but I wash my hands immediately after scooping and/or cleaning litter boxes and it is just common sense, especially if you are going to be handling food right afterwards.

Help Fighting Toxoplasmosis

This bad journalism is not helping pregnant women and immune-compromised people avoid T. gondii infection because they are just trying to scare people without telling them how to fight it. People are more likely to become infected with toxoplasmosis after handling raw meat or gardening with their bare hands in the dirt than from scopping their cat's litter box. Prevent infection by washing your hands with hot soapy water after handling raw meat, gardening without gloves in the dirt, cleaning the litter box, and sanitize all kitchen items that come into contact with raw meat during the food preparation process. It is really very simple, use common sense.

It is important that this misinformation about Toxoplasmosis and its transmission is stopped.

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