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Toxo or Toxoplasmosis is a parasitic disease which can infect almost all warm-blooded animals. However, the parasite is only able to complete its life cycle in a cat's body. An immature form of the parasite, responsible for this disease, Toxoplasma gondii houses itself in the muscle and organ tissues of infected animals, from where it spreads to other animals. For e.g.: A cat may contract the parasite from an infected mouse.
The immature form of Toxo, then, matures inside the
cat's intestines and is excreted in its feces. Any animal who then happens to
consume this fecal matter becomes infected with Toxoplasmosis.
Humans are just as vulnerable to this disease as
are other animals. For this reason, it is essential to learn how to mitigate
the risks of developing Toxoplasmosis. Infected cats carry the contagion for at
least three weeks. Toxoplasmosis can be transmitted from feces if these feces
is a minimum of 24 hours old. Contaminated raw or undercooked beef/pork/lamb
consumption can also lead to the development of this condition.
In our article, we will be focusing on how to
detect and treat this parasitic disease in our felines.
Kittens and cats with reduced immune function are
most at risk of contracting Toxoplasmosis. You can tell that your cat may be
suffering from a T.gondii infection, if it displays lethargy, is feverish or
displays a lack of appetite. If the parasite attacks your cat's lungs, they may
experience difficult breathing as it could cause pneumonia. If it develops in
the liver, your cat may begin to show symptoms of jaundice. Other symptoms to
watch out for are – blindness, loss of bladder/anal control, increased
sensitivity to touch, impaired coordination, seizures, ear twitching,
difficulty in chewing and swallowing food and so on.
How do you diagnose Toxoplasmosis in a cat?
A vet looks into a cat's history, signs of illness,
and lab test results before diagnosing it with Toxoplasmosis. Measuring two
separate antibodies to T.gondii is helpful in diagnosing the disease. High
levels of the antibody IgM indicate active infection in the cat. On the other
hand, if the antibody IgG is present in a good amount, it means that your cat
has previously been infected by Toxo and has now become immune to it. If the
cat shows no T.gondii antibody content, the cat is then, susceptible to
developing the condition in the future.
How is Toxoplasmosis treated?
The antibiotic, clindamycin, is useful in treating cats with Toxoplasmosis. Treatment should begin immediately after the cat has been diagnosed, and carry on till the last signs of the disease have disappeared. Corticosteroids may also be administered in conjunction with clindamycin if the vet suspects damage to the eyes or Central Nervous System.