Chart: 6 zoonoses you should know -- Toxoplasmosis

Chart: 6 zoonoses you should know -- Toxoplasmosis

Mar 12, 2010
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Common disease name

(Toxoplasmosis involves a protozoon parasite that infects virtually all warm-blooded vertebrates.)

Scientific name

Toxoplasma gondii

Method of infection

Cats: Ingestion of oocysts in feces, ingestion of tissues of intermediate host (e.g. rodents)

People: Ingestion of uncooked meat, exposure to infected cat feces (food, water, soil); usually not from shedding cat. Oocysts must sporulate in the environment before becoming infective.


Cats: Rarely causes clinical signs, but may cause lymphadenitis, encephalitis, coughing, dyspnea, weight loss, and lethargy

People: Rarely causes clinical signs, but may cause flu-like symptoms; in people with deficient immune responses it can lead to death, congenital malformation, or mental retardation


There are no approved treatments, but clindamycin hydrochloride, pyrimethamine and a sulfonamide, and a trimethoprim-sulfonamide combination have been used with success.

People most at risk

Everyone is at risk, but especially immunosuppressed people, including pregnant women, fetuses, and children


  • Keep cats indoors to prevent ingestion of infected animals and feces.
  • Avoid feeding uncooked meats or viscera to cats.
  • Remove feces from litter box daily.
  • Wash litter boxes with scalding water or steam.
  • Allow only immunocompetent, nonpregnant people to clean litter boxes.
  • Wash hands thoroughly after exposure to soil, sand, raw meats, and unwashed vegetables.
  • Wear gloves when gardening.
  • Cover children's sandboxes when not in use.


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