Toxoplasmosis in cat

Toxoplasmosis is a disease caused by Toxoplasma gondii and is transmitted from animals to human beings. It affects the reproductive system, skeletal muscles, nervous system, internal organs, eyes and can even damage it. Toxoplasmosis has been found in virtually all warm-blooded animals including cat, dog, cattle, buffalo, sheep, goat, horse and man.Toxoplasmosis is world wide in distribution and it occurs more in warm, moist climates than in cold, dry climates. It was first discovered in 1908 by Nicolle and Manceaux.

What is Toxoplasma gondii ?
Toxoplasma gondii is an obligate intracellular protozoan parasite. It is a crescent shaped organism with a two differently shaped ends, one with a pointed and the other with a blunt end.
It is found in three forms
a. Tachyzoites - Rapidly multiplying forms found in blood and body fluids.
b. Cyst form - Contain bradyzoites and found in body tissues
c. Sporulated oocyst -Voided in the faeces of cats.

How is toxoplasmosis transmitted in cat?
Toxoplasmosis is transmitted in cats by eating raw or undercooked meat and meat products like pork, lamb, containing toxoplasma cyst. Cat also gets infected by ingesting infected prey like rats, wild animals , birds. When the cat ingest the infected meat, the parasite goes to the small intestine and multiplies there, producing millions of oocysts which are excreted in the faeces at around 3-10 days and shedding of oocysts takes place for around10–14 days.

What are the symptoms of toxoplasmosis in cat?
Cats infected with toxoplasma show non-specific symptoms like fever, cough, loss of appetite, depression . More severe signs include inflammation and enlargement of lymph node, iritis, sensitivity to light, partial or total blindness, vomittion, diarrhoea, encephalitis, intestinal obstruction and hepatitis. Ascites, jaundice and muscle pain are also observed. Toxoplasmosis can affect any organ system but primarily affects the lungs, the central nervous system and the eyes

Signs most often occur in kittens & young cats. Signs and symptoms depends on the immune system of the cat and also whether the disease is acute or chronic, The disease will occur more severely in cat with low immunity like in cats suffering with feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) or feline leukemia virus (FELV). In acute case the cat suffers from anorexia, lethargy, dyspnoea and death occours.

What are the symptoms of toxoplasmosis in humans?
Humans suffering from toxoplasmosis shows fever, headache, enlarged lymph nodes , muscle and joint aches. Severe symptoms include meningoencephalitis, inflammation of heart, lungs and liver. Toxoplasma cysts are found mainly in the brain, eye, heart muscle, and skeletal muscle and causes blindness, brain damage, and other severe illness. In pregnant woman, if infection occour in the early pregnancy then abortion occours and if it occurs later then the infant may have serious or fatal congenital defects like mental retardation, loss of hearing, loss of vision and death in severe cases.

How is Toxoplasmos transmitted to human being?
Toxoplasma is transmitted in human beings through
a. Soil contaminated by infected cat faeces containg large number of oocyst.
b. Consumption of raw or undercooked meat containing toxoplasma cyst.
c. Improperly washed fruits and vegetables.
d. Water and milk containing toxoplasma.
e. Mother- to- foetus through placenta, organ transplantation.

Diagnosis of toxoplasmosis
Diagnosis of toxoplasmosis in cat is done on history, clinical signs, blood or faecal sample. Faecal method is not reliable because the cat are often not shedding the oocysts when they are showing signs of disease since oocysts are shed for only a short period of time and also the oocyst sometimes found in faeces look similar to some other parasites.Diagnosis in man and animals is done by various serological tests. They are
a. Mouse inoculation technique- Isolate Toxoplasma gondii organism.
b. Enzyme linked immuno-sorbent assay (ELISA)
c. Complement fixation test
d. Fluroescent antibody test
e. Direct agglutination test
f. Indirect haemaglutination test
g. Latex agglutination test
h. DNA test

What are the treatment of toxoplasmosis in cat?
Treatment in cat is done by drugs like Clindamycin at a dose rate of 25-50 mg/kg per day divided between two doses and this treatment should be continued for 14 days. Other drugs used are SDDS (diaminodiphenyl sulfone) and Pyrimethmine (Daraprim).Treatment must be done at the earliest soon after diagnosis of toxopasmosis. There is no fruitful vaccine available till now.

How to prevent and control toxoplasmosis in cat?
Toxoplasmosis can be prevented and controlled in cats by the following ways
a. Don’t feed the cat with raw or undercooked meat and meat products.
b. Don’t allow the cat to eat wild animals and birds.
c. Don’t allow the cat to eat rats and control rodent population by rodenticides.
d. Give drug to young cats as a preventive measure.

How to prevent and control toxoplasmosis in human beings?
Toxoplasmosis can be controlled in human beings by the following ways
a. Do not consume raw or undercooked meat and meat products.
b. Cook the meat at an internal temperature of 160 degrees or freeze the meat.
c. Fill litter box with boiling water, let it stand for 5 mnts atleast once a month.
d. Wash hand properly with soap and water after handling meat.
e. Wash vegetables thoroughly with water before eating.
f. Do not drink raw milk and untreated drinking water.
g. Cat litter should be changed daily.
h. Dont allow pregnant woman to clean litter box otherwise wear gloves.
i. Pregnant woman should be careful with stray cats.
j. Pregnant woman should not be allowed to handle raw meat.
k. Pregnant woman should wear gloves while gardening.

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