LETTER: Facts about cats and toxoplasmosis

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Further to the article entitled “Dad’s fear over health of child from empty house” in the April 6th edition, Cats Protection would like to address Mr Hargreaves’ concerns regarding toxoplasmosis.

Toxoplasmosis is an infection caused by a parasite called toxoplasma gondii that occurs in most birds and mammals, including humans.

The risk of acquiring toxoplasmosis from a cat is extremely small and research has shown contact with cats does not increase the risk of toxoplasma infection in people.

In fact most people are infected through other routes such as eating undercooked meat and inadvertently ingesting contaminated soil through gardening or eating unwashed vegetables.

In line with NHS guidelines, Cat Protection recommends simple every day hygiene measures that can be taken to reduce the risks of infection.

These include not eating undercooked meat, freezing meat at -12°C for several days, wearing gloves when handling raw meats, vegetables, soil material or litter trays, washing all fruit and vegetables before eating, washing hands after handling raw meats, unwashed vegetables, soil, litter trays, removing faeces from litter trays daily and covering sandpits when not in use.

The main people at risk of becoming ill after exposure to toxoplasma are immuno-compromised people, such as those with HIV and AIDS or cancer, and the unborn babies of mothers who have never been exposed to toxoplasma before. Congenital toxoplasmosis occurs when a woman becomes infected during pregnancy and passes the infection on to her unborn baby.

Further facts about cats and toxoplasmosis can be found on the Cats Protection website at www.cats.org.uk/toxo and on the NHS website at www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Toxoplasmosis