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Toxoplasmosis

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Disease Details

Incubation Period:

  • 5 - 23 days

Transmission Type(s):

Disease Reservoirs

Disease Agents

Yes, It's True

Pregnant women should avoid contact with soiled cat litter during pregnancy, so partners, it's up to you to keep that box clean.

About Toxoplasmosis

Toxoplasmosis is considered to be a leading cause of death attributed to foodborne illness in the United States. More than 60 million men, women, and children in the U.S. carry the Toxoplasma parasite, but very few have symptoms because the immune system usually keeps the parasite from causing illness.

However, women newly infected with Toxoplasma during pregnancy and anyone with a compromised immune system should be aware that toxoplasmosis can have severe consequences.

Symptoms

Healthy people who become infected with Toxoplasma gondii often do not have symptoms because their immune system usually keeps the parasite from causing illness. When illness occurs, it is usually mild with “flu-like” symptoms (e.g., tender lymph nodes, muscle aches, etc.) that last for weeks to months and then go away. However, the parasite remains in their body in an inactive state. It can become reactivated if the person becomes immunosuppressed.

Toxoplasmosis Prevention

To prevent risk of toxoplasmosis from the environment:

  • Avoid drinking untreated drinking water.
  • Wear gloves when gardening and during any contact with soil or sand because it might be contaminated with cat feces that contain Toxoplasma. Wash hands with soap and warm water after gardening or contact with soil or sand.
  • Teach children the importance of washing hands to prevent infection.
  • Keep outdoor sandboxes covered.
  • Feed cats only canned or dried commercial food or well-cooked table food, not raw or undercooked meats.
  • Change the litter box daily if you own a cat. The Toxoplasma parasite does not become infectious until 1 to 5 days after it is shed in a cat's feces. If you are pregnant or immunocompromised:
    1. Avoid changing cat litter if possible. If no one else can perform the task, wear disposable gloves and wash your hands with soap and warm water afterwards.
    2. Keep cats indoors.
    3. Do not adopt or handle stray cats, especially kittens. Do not get a new cat while you are pregnant.

To prevent risk of toxoplasmosis and other infections from food:

  • Cook food to safe temperatures. A food thermometer should be used to measure the internal temperature of cooked meat. Do not sample meat until it is cooked.
  • Freeze meat for several days at sub-zero (0° F) temperatures before cooking to greatly reduce chance of infection.
  • Peel or wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly before eating.
  • Wash cutting boards, dishes, counters, utensils, and hands with hot soapy water after contact with raw meat, poultry, seafood, or unwashed fruits or vegetables.

Read More

Read more about Toxoplasmosis at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Website