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We Finally Know How Cat Parasites Controls Our Immune Response

Toxoplasma gondii (t. gondii) is a nearly ubiquitous parasite that is widely viewed as the “cat parasite.” Cats are the primary host but the good name of our feline friends has been besmirched. Cat ownership isn't even a common way for humans to acquire toxoplasmosis. In the U.S., humans are most often exposed through raw or undercooked meat, unwashed fruits and veggies and contaminated water or soil.

Science Alert reported that new efforts are being made to unravel the mysteries of T. gondii but carelessly implicated our feline companions as a disease vector. The T. gondii parasite is found in a wide variety of birds and mammals, but it can only reproduce inside cats. Estimates are that 30 percent of cats and dogs in the U.S., as well as 25 to 50 percent of Americans have been exposed. But while exposure to the parasite is fairly common, infection and clinical disease is rare.

The persistent misconception that cats are a dangerous disease vector for a mysterious pathogen is a myth that must be debunked. It is also not an issue for indoor house cats. Unless your indoor kitty encounters an infected rodent inside your house, there's really no way for her to contract the parasite.

Toxoplasmosis in adult cats is rare. There are also common sense measures you can take to minimize exposure. Pregnant women should not be assigned litterbox chores. Cover outdoor sandboxes so neighborhood cats do not turn this children’s play area into a communal latrine. Also wear gloves when doing yardwork. These sensible measures are a minimal sacrifice compared to the joys of cat stewardship.
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