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Toxoplasmosis in cats - Symptoms, diagnosis and treatment

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I have a cat at home and I am pregnant, I'm worried that I can spread toxoplasmosis to my baby. How to know if my cat has toxoplasmosis? This question is asked by many families Very often, toxoplasmosis is a disease that can be spread to the fetus, we tell you how to avoid it!

How toxoplasmosis is spread

As we said, contagion occurs when there is direct contact with the virus, which is found in cat feces and in the raw meat of other animals. Therefore, It is recommended that the sandbox be cleaned with gloves, as well as not handling meat without cooking.

Contagion to the fetus is not common, but if it happens, can occur at any time during pregnancy. But nevertheless, this contagion is especially dangerous during the first weeks, when the embryo is beginning to form.

Toxoplasmosis is complicated to detect, since It is an asymptomatic infection.

So how is it detected?

How to know if my cat has toxoplasmosis if this disease does not give visible symptoms? The disease as such has no symptoms of its own, but generic symptoms that it shares with other pathologies. That is why it is complicated to detect. The usual symptoms of a cat with toxoplasmosis are:

  • Fever
  • Apathy
  • Lack of appetite
  • Diarrhea
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Very low defenses

It is very important that you go to the veterinarian as soon as possible if you detect any or several of these symptoms in your cat. Through a blood test, toxoplasmosis can be diagnosed or ruled out. Stool analysis, oddly enough, is not the most reliableIt is not always decisive, especially at certain stages of the disease.

Toxoplasmosis treatment in cats

If it is confirmed that your cat has toxoplasmosis, you will be prescribed an antibiotic treatment It will last a couple of weeks. Remember that always You should follow your veterinarian's instructions and not medicate your pet on your own.

On the other hand, there is nothing better than prevention! Did you know that you can prevent your cat from getting toxoplasmosis very easily? Simply, rule out feeding it with raw meats, opt for cat feed or canned food. Of course, you will not completely eliminate the risk, since there are always factors that we cannot control, but eliminating raw meat from your diet will get rid of the greatest danger of toxoplasmosis.

Also, if your cat has all his vaccines on and lives mostly at home, Having little contact with other animals, it is very unlikely to be infected with this disease.

What happens if I am pregnant?

If you are pregnant and your cat has or has had toxoplasmosis, it is possible that you also had it, confusing it with a simple condition such as a common cold or flu.

If your cat has infected toxoplasmosis and you are waiting for a baby, don't panic! There is a very simple and effective treatment for pregnant women. In fact, except for very serious cases, many times toxoplasmosis does not need any treatment, especially if it gives no symptoms.

Remember! Having pets and babies are two perfectly compatible things. Do not abandon your cat for fear of toxoplasmosis! Ideally, keep your cat well taken care of and free from danger, as well as inform you well about pets and pregnancy and living with babies. If you have any questions, ask your veterinarian!

What is toxoplasmosis?

Toxoplasmosis is a protozoan disease caused by the parasite Toxoplasma gondii, which can affect various warm-blooded animals, such as humans, pets, birds and even marine mammals. It is present around the world. Although many animals can act as disease vectors, felines are the only animals that become definitive guests of toxoplasmosis. They can spread it to other animals.

Symptoms of toxoplasmosis in cats

In general, toxoplasmosis in cats is asymptomatic, that is, we will not observe a clear symptomatology that can warn us that a contagion has occurred. However, and depending on the infectious stage, we can observe in very young individuals certain clinical signs:

  • Diarrhea
  • Low defenses
  • Fever
  • Lack of appetite
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Apathy
  • Cough
  • Dyspnoea
  • Jaundice
  • Seizures
  • Abortions
  • Death of the fetus
  • Cat death

The animals that are immunocompromised, such as those with the feline leukemia virus, are more susceptible to suffering from a condition of Acute generalized toxoplasmosis, in addition to the following health problems:

  • Organ necrosis
  • Interstitial pneumonia
  • Myocarditis
  • Meningoencephalomyelitis
  • Chorioretinitis
  • Lymphadenopathy
  • Myositis

Toxoplasmosis infection

Contagion is caused by the consumption of tissue cysts that are present in the infected meat, for example of small mammals such as mice or birds. It is also frequent due to transplacental transfer of tachyzotides. from mother to fetus. Once they reach the stomach and small intestine, this protozoan parasite produces a sexual replication that culminates in a release of oocysts in cat feces.

Once the infection occurs, the cat will release oocysts between days 3 and 20 through feces, which can also remain in the environment for months. However, once the initial infection is over, the adult cat develops immunity, so he never has toxoplasmosis again. However, tissue cysts, that is, those that are present in the skin, can remain active for years.

Toxoplasmosis diagnosis in cats

But, How to know if my cat has toxoplasmosis? The diagnosis of feline toxoplasmosis is made by serological, biological or histological methods, since in most cases the cat's symptoms are nonspecific. Usually a blood test, since the analysis of feces is not always decisive to confirm this pathology.

The most common tests are the ELISA test, an indirect fluorescent antibody test, the latex agglutination test or the indirect hemagglutination test.

Toxoplasmosis treatment in cats

Once the diagnosis is confirmed, the veterinarian will explain what steps to follow, although it should be noted that in most cases no treatment will be performed. However, in certain situations, the specialist will prescribe the use of antibiotics for cats, which may be accompanied by drugs. anticonvulsants. Likewise, felines presenting a severe dehydration condition will need to be hospitalized to replenish fluids and be fed intravenously.

Toxoplasmosis prevention in cats

All those who wonder how to prevent toxoplasmosis in cats should know that, with very simple measures, they can achieve it. To start, we will focus on the cat feeding, especially if it is based on raw meat, as is the case with the BARF diet. We will bet on cooked ingredients, never raw, and always of good quality.

Then we will go to our veterinarian to perform a blood test Let us know if our cat suffers from this disease. Also, to avoid contagion through wild animals, we will prevent our cat from going outside, thus preventing it from feeding on mice or small birds, which could be carriers of the parasite Toxoplasma gondii.

Toxoplasmosis in pregnancy

The spread of toxoplasmosis during pregnancy is one of the main concerns of pregnant women who have felines in charge, however, if we go to our vet to rule out this health problem and we take the hygiene and safety measures relevant, we will soon discover that the risk is very low and, in most cases, non-existent.

Here we explain everything you need about toxoplasmosis in cats related to pregnancy, taking into account the symptoms, forms of infection or preventive measures:

Symptoms of toxoplasmosis in pregnancy

Unfortunately, toxoplasmosis is a asymptomatic pathology in most cases, that is, it is not possible to warn her. However, in some cases, people who suffer from it may experience a flu-like symptomatology. In any case, toxoplasmosis It is only spread once in life, because from that moment antibodies are generated that fight it.

Consequences on the baby

The involvement of this parasite will depend, directly, on the moment in which the pregnant woman has been infected. During the first quarter you can produce a spontaneous abortion or the death of the fetus. In the following stages it would cause a growth retardation or damage to various organs among others.

Toxoplasmosis Prevention

It is highly recommended to perform a pre pregnancy analysis to confirm or detect the presence of the parasite Toxoplasma gondiiHowever, a pregnant woman should also do it. Likewise, it is also advisable to go to the vet with our cat to confirm or rule out the transmission.

This article is purely informative, at ExpertAnimal.com we have no power to prescribe veterinary treatments or make any kind of diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the veterinarian in case he presents any type of condition or discomfort.

If you want to read more articles similar to Toxoplasmosis in cats - Symptoms, diagnosis and treatment, we recommend that you enter our section of parasitic diseases.

The cat, a scapegoat for toxoplasmosis

Toxoplasmosis is an infectious disease caused by toxoplasma gondii, a parasitic -protozoan-microorganism that is embedded in our body at the cellular level. It lives in humans and in many species of birds and animals, such as pigs, lambs, mice and cats.

"Pregnant women have real terror of toxoplasmosis," says the doctor, "because their babies, during pregnancy, can be infected and born with damage to the nervous system, eyes, skin and ears." They are afraid, as is logical and reasonable. ”

Toxoplasmosis passes once and leaves perpetual immunization, a situation that happens to 20% of women. It causes symptoms similar to those of a bad cold (swollen lymph nodes, fatigue, headache, fever), but most people do not get sick, they are asymptomatic, unless their immune system is deficient.

A cat Neva Masquerade participates in the International Feline Exhibition of Warsaw in November 2009. EFE / Pawel Kula

We can all get toxoplasmosis by:

  • Eat raw or undercooked meat from infected animals (pig, lamb, etc.).
  • Drink contaminated water with this parasite.
  • Use kitchen utensils that were in contact with infected meat (cutting boards, trays, plates, knives, skewers, forks, etc.).
  • Touch with the hands, without gloves, the feces of an infected cat.
  • Receive an organ transplant or blood infected by toxoplasmosis.

“Your pet cat, which does not go out to the street or to the garden of the plot, well fed with feed and canned food, will hardly transmit this microscopic parasite to you, especially if you keep scrupulous certain hygiene rules, such as always collecting your feces from the sandbox before 24 hours pass or, after doing so, better with gloves, we wash our hands with soap and water, ”he says.

Dr. Sala advises future mothers to come to her preconceptional consultation before becoming pregnant. You can check, for example, immunization or not to toxoplasmosis.

Congenital toxoplasmosis

After confirming the pregnancy, a blood test will detect possible infections that could be transmitted to the fetus through the placenta, such as toxoplasmosis (IgM) antibodies.

Maternal toxoplasma infection carries some risk of transmission to the unborn.

"Little risk during the first quarter, less than 5% of cases, and high risk from the third quarter, with 60% of cases," he says.

Once the fetus is infected, the damage will be variable.

"It will have less than 60% involvement if it occurs in the first trimester of pregnancy, and will be much higher if the woman is above 25 weeks," he emphasizes.

Of infected infants, only 15% will develop symptoms. Of them, about 4% will grow with neurological effects.

"Putting the statistics in relation, 85% of newborns infected with toxoplasma gondii will not suffer from the disease in their growth stage," he says.

Dr. Sala has not found in Spain rates or index of children infected by toxoplasmosis.

"On the other hand, in France, where part of their diet is based on raw meat and pates, the index stands at only 0.3% of every thousand newborn babies," he emphasizes.

A cat "King of Cornwall". EFE / Vassil Donev

“Like everything in life,” he says, “the approach to truth is based on knowledge of reality and not being carried away by bulls, infusions, deductions or urban legends. Toxoplasmosis has become an argument to get rid of domestic cats. ”

The only way for women to get toxoplasmosis is because they have never had the infection, because their cat has been infected for the first time or because they collect the feces from the sandbox after 24 hours, and up to five days later, and do so without gloves or put their hands in their mouths.

“I hope this videoblog ends the black legend of toxoplasmosis related to cats and helps these animals, small and magnificent, to continue living with pregnant women and, after delivery, with their newborns. Misinformation makes many people abandon their pets on the street or, in the best case, in a shelter, ”he concludes.

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