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Facts about Cat Toxoplasmosis

Cat toxoplasmosis is one of the unique protozoan infections of Zoonotic importance caused by Toxoplasma gondii which is ubiquitous in distribution. This intracellular protozoan parasite is capable of infecting wide varieties of tissues of large number of hosts including felids. Information about cat toxoplasmosis is very important for a cat owner.

Cat is not only the solitary definitive host for this parasite but also acts as an intermediate host. Because of involvement of several tissues, wide range of clinical signs is manifested by affected animals depending on the system involved.

Etiology

The trophozoites, which are the infective form of Toxoplama gondii, are crescentic in shape having nucleus at one end of pole and cytoplasm contains a large number of organelles. They are found in pairs as they reproduce longitudinally. In tissue sections, they are either rounded or oval in shape.

Transmission

The occurrence of feline toxoplasmosis is by ingestion of oocysts contaminated feed or through ingestion of infected beef harboring asexual stages of parasite. This intracellular parasite has a simple coccidial life cycle in cats. Other mode of transmission includes transplacental infection, ingestion of contaminated water, ingestion of infected rats and intake of contaminated felid feces.

Symptoms Of Felid Toxoplasmosis

Subclinical or inapparent form of the disease is common in cats. The disease is usually seen in young or aged animals due to immunodeficiency. Since toxoplasma can infect varieties of tissues, it is expected that a wide range of clinical signs appear in clinically affected animals.

The common clinical signs of toxoplasmosis in cat are respiratory distress, in-coordination of gait, tremors, ophisthotonus, convulsions, and paralysis, besides non-specific signs such as pyrexia, anorexia, depression, and discharges from eyes and nostrils (ocular toxoplasmosis).

The common infected symptom toxoplasmosis is encephalitis (Inflammation of brain). Even other important organs including liver, heart and eyes gets affected with this zoonotic disease.

In addition to this, this disease may also transmitted to a pregnant women from infected cat, which is termed as pregnant toxoplasmosis in human beings.

Diagnosis

The cat in toxoplasmosis can readily be diagnosed by-

  • Demonstration of trachyzoites and/or cysts in one or more organs.
  • Biological test by intraperitoneal injection of suspected material into susceptible hosts like mice.
  • Immunological techniques like indirect hemagglutination test, indirect FAT, immunoperoxidase test etc.
  • PCR wherever facilities are available.

Further complications

  • Ocular Toxoplasmosis
  • Cerebral Toxoplasmosis

Toxoplasmosis Treatment

Treatment of toxoplasmosis cat is not practiced as the disease is rarely detected during life. However, sulfadiazine combined with pyrimethamine is found to be effective against the disease in some of the felids.

Prevention and Control

No vaccine is available for prevention of toxoplasmosis in cat. Beef, meat and feces of felids may be periodically examined for Toxoplasma. Feeding your cat with processed food from commercial sources or perfectly cooked meat will definitely prevent the occurrence of cat toxoplasmosis.

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