Cat parasites from poop now spreading dangerously, study suggests

By on Jul 10, 2013 in Animals, Health, United States, World Comments

Cat parasites, which are being carried from their poop, are now spreading dangerously and may pose health risk to humans. This is what a recent study is suggesting, where cats in the US have found to be releasing approximately 1.2 million metric tons (2.6 billion pounds) of waste into the environment each year. Pet cats in the country reportedly increased from 55 million in 1989 to 80 million in 2006.

White cat eyes

Credit: BatangasToday.com

According to an article posted at StanleyResearch.org, the latest study was led by Dr. E. Fuller Torrey and Dr. Robert H. Yolken, scientists at Johns Hopkins University Medical Center in Chevy Chase, Maryland. Researchers discovered that the cat parasite eggs, known as oocysts, are present in the poop samples taken from Brazil, Panama, Poland, China, and California, USA.

As noted in the Toxoplasmosis–Schizophrenia Research report, cat poop have single-celled organism parasite called Toxoplasma gondii that creates these oocysts, which can infect pregnant women, causing their baby to have congenital problems such as eye damage, deafness, seizures, and even mental retardation. These cat parasites are also infecting people with weak immune systems, such as HIV/AIDS victims.

“What happens to these oocysts in children’s play areas? I put together the data we have and found it disturbing. It’s a remarkably complex parasite. It’s much more complicated than a virus, and has many more genes,” Dr. Torrey told Live Science, with his research team spending five years in studying Toxoplasma gondii.

Dr. Torrey also noted that about 1% of the cats are releasing oocysts at any given time, or nearly 55 million oocysts per day, and that these parasites can survive up to 18 months or longer. Based on the in-depth study, cats can ingest oocysts when they eat their prey, such as mice or birds that are infected with the parasite. However, researchers emphasized that cats can still be a family pet.

Other animals can also acquire them once they eat infected cat poop, while humans can get them by eating infected meat and by drinking highly contaminated water. They study also cautioned parents who allow their young children to play in public sandboxes and backyard dirt. Likewise, cat owners and gardeners are also being reminded to wear appropriate gloves when handling cat litter and to dispose them properly.



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