The Danger Of Cat Parasites



Are Schizophrenia and Cat Ownership Related?

Did you know there is a common cat parasite that is not only dangerous for your cat but your entire family? If you’re a cat owner you’ve probably heard about how important it is for pregnant women to be careful when handling cat waste. But did you know that it’s also important for children? Studies have shown that a common cat parasite, called T. gondii, has been linked to schizophrenia. Don’t worry, though, by taking a few simple precautions you can protect your family and continue loving your kittens!

“Cat ownership in childhood has now been reported in three studies to be significantly more common in families in which the child is later diagnosed with schizophrenia or another serious mental illness,” the authors of the study said in a statement.

Another recent study, published in the journal Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, looked at dozens of published studies that also found that T. gondii infection is associated with mental disorders.

The results of the research showed that a person infected with the parasite was almost twice as likely to develop schizophrenia.

Fortunately, there are precautions that cat lovers can take — you don’t have to limit your feline contact to watching cat videos on YouTube.

So what can cat-loving parents do? Study author Torrey told CBS that, “Children can be protected by keeping their cat exclusively indoors and always covering the sandbox when not in use.”
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Protecting Your Family From Cat Parasites

The T. gondii parasite is a scary thing. It’s the most common parasite in developing nations but can still pose a threat for the rest of us. For many, contact with the T. gondii parasite does absolutely no harm, although it’s still a good idea to safeguard yourself and your family. Keep reading to learn more.

Everyone loves cuddling with kittens. But there can be a little-known danger lurking behind that furry little face and that innocent-sounding meow: a parasite called Toxoplasma gondii (T. gondii).

T. gondii is the most common parasite in developed nations, according to Schizophrenia Bulletin. The cat-carried parasite can infect any warm-blooded species, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates more than 60 million people in the U.S. may have it.

Most people never suffer any symptoms at all. But in those with weaker immune systems, infection with T. gondii can cause an illness called toxoplasmosis, which can result in miscarriages, fetal development disorders, weeks of flu-like illness, blindness and even death.

It has also been associated with mental disorders including schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Now two more studies explore the mental health issues in greater detail.

“In schizophrenia, the evidence of an association with T. gondii is overwhelming,” the authors say in a press release. “These findings may give further clues about how T. gondii infection can possibly [alter] the risk of specific psychiatric disorders.”

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This doesn’t mean you have to give up your fur babies, though! Take a few precautions to keep both your family and your cats healthy and save you stress and worry.

“Children can be protected by keeping their cat exclusively indoors and always covering the sandbox when not in use,” Torrey told CBS News in an email. The CDC also recommends changing the cat’s litter box daily, since T. gondii does not become infectious until 1 to 5 days after it is shed in feces.

In addition, avoid feeding cats raw or undercooked meat.

Because toxoplasmosis is especially hazardous to unborn babies, health officials recommend that pregnant women avoid cleaning litter boxes, if possible, or wear disposable gloves and wash hands thoroughly with soap and water afterwards.
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How do you protect your family from cat-related parasites? Do you keep your cats indoors, or are they allowed outside from time to time?

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