What is it?
• Toxoplasmosis is a zoonotic disease which means it can be transmitted from animals to humans and vice versa.
• It is caused by a parasite that can infect a variety of organs and lead to many serious signs of illness.
What causes it?
• A one-celled parasite typically found in raw or undercooked meats can be the origin.
• The oocysts (infectious forms) can pass from the mother to the fetus through the mother’s placenta or milk.
• Cats can excrete oocysts through their feces.
• The parasites multiply within intestinal cells and spread throughout the body.
• Parasites can enter any tissue and cause illness, and may lead to cysts in muscles.
• Clinical signs vary depending on the organ or tissue involved. Symtoms can include weakness, incoordination, respiratory signs like coughing or wheezing, inflammation of the eyes, fever, vomiting, weight loss, and decreased appetite.
What tests are needed?
• Diagnosis is usually based in history, sign of illness, and supportive laboratory tests.
• Blood and urine tests are done to see how the body is affected by the infection.
• Tests for antibodies against toxoplasma can be done on blood, cerebrospinal fluid, or aqueous humor from the eye.
• Abdominal x-rays or ultrasounds may be performed.
• Tissue samples may be examined under a microscope to identify the parasite.
• Other tests may be necessary to rule out other conditions.
How is it treated?
• There are drugs available to suppress multiplication of the organism.
• Depending on the severity of symptoms, the animal may need to have additional supportive care.
What follow up care is needed?
• Chance of transmission can be reduced by limiting exposure to infectious oocysts in cat feces and raw meat.
• Feed your animal only full-cooked, commercial or homemade foods.