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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.