Toxoplasmosis is a disease caused by microbes that can be dangerous for both animals and humans. Why toxoplasmosis is directly associated with cats is described in this article.
Causes of the disease
Toxoplasmosis is caused by the simplest intracellular parasites-toxoplasmas.
The chain of infection of animals looks like this:
- toxoplasmas reproduce only in the intestines of cats;
- with the feces of sick animals, parasites fall to the ground;
- soil contaminated with bacteria on shoes can get into the house and serve as a carrier of the disease;
- on a walk, the animal can eat food contaminated with contaminated soil;
- toxoplasmas found in contaminated soil can affect various animals: dogs, rodents, and agricultural livestock, whose meat is consumed by domesticated animals.
Carriers of microbes are considered stray cats and dogs that eat food infected with microbes from the ground or sick mice.
Domestic cats get toxoplasmosis by eating raw or semi-raw meat, as well as picking up parasites lurking in the street dust, dirt, the remnants of which are brought with them by people on shoes to the house.
Exposure of breeds to the disease
No cat breed is immune from toxoplasmosis.
But there are risks, excluding which, you can protect your animal from the disease. These risks include:
- raw meat in the pet’s diet;
- free access of cats to the street;
- age of animals up to one year;
- a weakened immune system of adult cats;
- the presence of other diseases in the animal that worsen the General state of health;
- unsatisfactory sanitary conditions of the pet, including long-term not cleaned cat toilet;
- dirty shoes of people with remnants of earth and other street pollution, located in a place accessible to the cat.
The main symptoms
The disease occurs in different forms, each of which has its own symptoms:
- Latent (hidden), otherwise called the chronic phase, is characterized by an increase in lymph nodes, slight redness of the eyes and sputum from the nose, diarrhea, loss of appetite and a slight weight loss (duration 1-6 weeks).
- The subacute phase is characterized by a high temperature, reddening of the eyes with possible discharge of pus, the pet has frequent breathing, burdened with a cough.
- The acute phase aggravates all the symptoms to the maximum: complete refusal to eat, excessive saliva, shortness of breath, trembling in the muscles, weight is lost — the animal melts, coordination becomes uncertain, convulsions are possible, up to paralysis.
If you find a strange behavior of the cat or a slight manifestation of signs that the animal has not previously been noted, you should contact a veterinary clinic.
Diagnosis of the disease in a veterinary clinic
Toxoplasmosis is difficult to detect at an early stage. For this reason, several methods of studying the animal are used to detect it. Analysis of cat feces for the presence of parasites is not always able to detect microbes.
In this case, helminthoscopy is applicable, when feces or a smear is taken from the rectum and using the darling or Fulleborn method, Toxoplasma eggs are detected.
Also, the veterinary clinic takes a blood test that shows the presence of antibodies to the pathogen. A positive result indicates that the animal is a carrier of infection. He is prescribed treatment with a second blood donation in two weeks.
This is necessary to control the number of antibodies: if it has decreased, then the treatment is successful, if the opposite result-the animal needs complex therapy.
Treatment method and prognosis
It is very important that the owner’s request to the veterinary clinic is at an early stage of the disease. Treatment of the animal must be carried out under the supervision of a doctor.
It is difficult to determine how much time it will take for the pet to return to normal life. Treatment takes a long period: approximately from one to three months, in the advanced case-up to a year. In the most severe phase of the disease, the cat very rarely survives.
A veterinarian usually prescribes complex treatment, taking into account the tests, the course of the disease, its manifestation, the characteristics of the animal’s breed, and the protective functions of its immune system. With timely treatment in the clinic for toxoplasmosis, the prognosis is always favorable.
What to do at home
If the animal has a fever, loss of appetite, cough or other questionable symptoms, the pet should be immediately shown to a veterinarian.
If the diagnosis is confirmed, the cat should be isolated in a separate room for an average of 14 days for a course of treatment. More specific information, depending on the condition of the pet, will be recommended by the attending physician. During the period of illness, it is important to thoroughly wash the cat’s toilet with hot water, rinsing it with ammonia. The owner must wear gloves when handling the toilet.
It is necessary to exclude raw meat from the pet’s diet, prevent the cat from walking in the yard and hunting rodents and birds.
A cat is contagious to humans in the subacute or acute phase of the disease: Toxoplasma secreted by a cat when sneezing can be inhaled. It should be remembered that they die in the air within a few minutes and take measures to ventilate a separate room where the sick cat is located.
Further, toxoplasmosis is transformed into a latent (chronic) phase and manifests itself in the form of short-term diarrhea. This period lasts for the cat’s entire life, and toxoplasmas are “closed” inside the cells and any animal secretions do not contain parasites. Chronic toxoplasmosis of the animal is not contagious for owners.
After treatment, it is necessary to completely exclude raw meat from the diet, it is advisable to avoid contact with other animals and not allow free access to the pet’s yard.
Ignoring these rules will lead to a new infection of the cat.
In the severe phase of toxoplasmosis, the pet may be affected by the nervous system with the appearance of foci of destruction of nerve tissues in the brain or spinal cord. In this case, possible convulsions and paralysis of the animal, which will turn it into a disabled person.
Toxoplasmosis in pregnant cats leads to miscarriages or the birth of dead kittens due to transplacental infection of the fetus. This happens if the cat is infected with toxoplasmosis for the first time before or during pregnancy. Further, in the chronic phase of the disease, the immune system does not allow such infection to occur.
Prevention measures (diet)
To prevent the cat from Contracting toxoplasmosis, the animal’s diet must meet the following requirements:
- consist of ready-made industrial food: dry or canned;
- exclude raw or semi-raw meat;
- do not allow rodent hunting.
The cat has been living next to a human for centuries, delivering pleasant moments by purring in response to the owner’s caresses.
And if you keep your Pets clean and with the right diet and regime, you can prevent dangerous diseases.
Hi, my name is Mike Fletcher. I am 36 years old and a veterinarian at a veterinary clinic in Granby Colorado. And this is my blog about Pets. I hope I can answer your questions here.