Because we are more affected by Toxoplasma gondii it is important that we take measures to not get or spread the disease.
Infection in humans and other warm-blooded animals can occur:
- by consuming raw or undercooked meat containing T. gondii tissue cysts. especially from eating raw or undercooked pork.
- by ingesting water, soil, vegetables, or anything contaminated with oocysts shed in the feces of an infected animal. Cat fecal matter is particularly dangerous: Just one cyst consumed by a cat will result in millions of oocysts. This is why physicians recommend pregnant or ill persons do not clean the cat's litter box at home.
- from a blood transfusion or organ transplant
- or transplacental transmission from mother to fetus, particularly when T. gondii is contracted during pregnancy.
Having a cat as a pet, allowing a cat to defecate in public without cleaning it up are all ways of spreading this disease, and it can even get into our food and water this way.
When a member of the cat family is infected with T. gondii (e.g. by consuming an infected mouse laden with the parasite's tissue cysts), the parasite survives passage through the stomach, eventually infecting epithelial cells of the cat's small intestine. Inside these intestinal cells, the parasites undergo sexual development and reproduction, producing millions of thick-walled, zygote-containing cysts known as oocysts.
Feline shedding of oocysts
Infected epithelial cells eventually rupture and release oocysts into the intestinal lumen, whereupon they are shed in the cat's feces. Oocysts can then spread to soil, water, food, or anything potentially contaminated with the feces. Highly resilient, oocysts can survive and remain infective for many months in cold and dry climates.
Ingestion of oocysts by humans or other warm-blooded animals is one of the common routes of infection. Humans can be exposed to oocysts by, for example, consuming unwashed vegetables or contaminated water, or by handling the feces (litter) of an infected cat. Although cats can also be infected by ingesting oocysts, they are much less sensitive to oocyst infection than are intermediate hosts.
It is well known that this disease effects the minds of mice that it infects, making them attracted to cats, so that they will be eaten and the virus spread. It also works in humans like this.
"Crazy cat lady syndrome"
"Crazy cat lady syndrome" is a term coined by news organizations to describe scientific findings that link the parasite Toxoplasma gondii to several mental disorders and behavioral problems. The term crazy cat lady syndrome draws on both stereotype and popular cultural reference. It was originated as instances of the aforementioned afflictions were noted amongst the populace. Cat lady is a cultural stereotype of a woman who compulsively hoards cats and dotes upon them. Jaroslav Flegr (biologist) is a proponent of the theory that toxoplasmosis affects human behavior.
Louis Wain (artist) was famous for painting cats; he later developed schizophrenia, which was due to toxoplasmosis resulting from his prolonged exposure to cats.
Arthur Ashe (tennis player) developed neurological problems from toxoplasmosis.
Prince François, Count of Clermont his disability caused him to be overlooked in the line of succession.
Leslie Ash (actress) contracted toxoplasmosis in the second month of pregnancy.
Sebastian Coe (British middle-distance runner) contracted toxoplasmosis.
Martina Navratilova suffered from toxoplasmosis during the 1982 US Open.
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