Toxoplasmosis is a disease caused by a parasitic protozoan, the toxoplasma gondii, one of the agents who more infections of this type causes in humans, according to members of the Spanish Society of Infectious Diseases and Clinical Microbiology (@SEIMC_).
On the “guilt” of the cat in the transmission of this disease, there are theories of all kinds. It is true that felines can become definitive “hosts” of the parasite, but only if they have been infected before. Therefore, the idea that all cats transmit toxoplasmosis to the people who live with them it is not true. A healthy cat will not be able to do it.
As explained by the Illustrious College of Veterinarians of Valencia (@ICOVValencia), cats usually contract the infection through the ingestion of some piece of meat already infested (a mouse or any small bird) or, also, when getting closer than due to the droppings of other animals that they had the disease. The parasite reproduces in the intestine of the cat and is expelled through stool, becoming infectious, that is, with the ability to infect another person or animal in a matter of days.
How can a human get toxoplasmosis?
Knowing how the parasite can reach the human body, it is easier to be clear when there is greater risk of contracting toxoplasmosis. First of all, a well-fed house cat, with its veterinary reviews and periodic deworming and, in addition, it does not usually escape, it is unlikely that it will have access to meat infested by the parasite. Although his hunting instinct makes this possibility cannot be ruled out, the odds are less than in the case of a stray or wild cat.
On the other hand, it must be remembered that toxoplasma gondii can only reach humans if it comes into contact with the animal’s contaminated feces. Minimal precautions when removing droppings from the litter box, such as the use of gloves, can prevent transmission. It is true that stroking the cat can make you put the parasite in your mouth, but it is rare because, for this to happen, the cat should have been in contact with its own feces and we already know how scrupulous cats are in this regard.
In summary, it can be said that cats can indeed transmit toxoplasmosis, but not as “dogma”. Different circumstances have to come together so that the disease reaches from a feline to a human being.
Toxoplasmosis in people can remain asymptomatic for a time or have symptoms such as tiredness, fever, and general malaise. The disease requires specific treatment but, generally, it does not pose serious risks, except in two cases in which all precautions are little: pregnant women (the parasite could affect the health of the fetus) and people with the weakened immune system, in which case there is a risk of serious complications.