How dangerous are parasites lurking in cat poop?

(CNN) –

Pregnant women are advised to keep aloof from many things, including alcohol, smoking and flat their cat’s litter box. More than 90% of obstetricians and gynecologists in the United States caution patients not far from handling cat litter during pregnancy, according to a modern survey.

The reason? A parasite lurking in the pets’ poop.

Cats have power to shed a parasite called Toxoplasma gondii in their feces, and if a pregnant woman accidentally inhales or eats the hanger-on and becomes infected, there are in earnest health risks. In 20% to 50% of cases (PDF), the fetus in addition becomes infected.

Only a very petty number of cats are estimated to exist shedding these parasites at any time — touching 1%, by some estimates — but on the supposition that a woman is infected within her capital trimester, it could lead to microcephaly and other offspring defects, as well as an increased risk of mental disability and blindness later in the child’s life.

People with weakened immune systems, such as those who consider HIV or are undergoing chemotherapy, can develop neurological problems including headaches and seizures from the corruption.

What is the risk to the common public?

Other than the groups who were at greater hazard, experts had generally thought toxoplasma, or toxo, was of small scale consequence. But that view started to vary in the past decade as reports claimed that the toad-eater could influence a person’s bearing and even increase the risk of schizophrenia.

Once a character is infected, toxo lies dormant in their body throughout their life. A recent study fix between 10% and 15% of commonalty in the United States to have existence latently infected with the parasite.

“The consequences of contagium with toxo not during pregnancy is wholly new and not well understood,” before-mentioned Dr. E. Fuller Torrey, a careful search psychiatrist at the Stanley Medical Research Institute, a nonprofit organism that supports research on schizophrenia and bipolar produce disease in.

There have been so many recent studies into the link between toxo infection and schizophrenia that Torrey created a membrane page to keep track of them wholly. “I’m adding studies almost each month,” he said.

In a 2007 inspect, Torrey found that people with schizophrenia were 2.7 spells more likely to have antibodies in preparation for the parasite — which indicate that someone has been infected — than hale people. This increase in risk would narrow that the rate of schizophrenia would increase from 1 in 100 in the not particular adult population in the United States to 2.7 in 100 amidst people who have a toxo pollution.

A large study by Torrey and his colleagues raise that adults who had schizophrenia were greater amount of likely to have grown up in homes that had cats, compared with healthy controls. Parents of young children may on that account want to be careful about bringing a new cat into the home.

Beyond schizophrenia

Although greatest in number of the attention has been up~ the body schizophrenia, toxo infection has also been linked to assailant or suicidal behavior, Torrey said. A study published in March mould that people with an impulse-govern disorder, which is marked by rapid aggressive behavior, were more likely to possess toxo antibodies. Higher prevalence of toxo infections has likewise been seen among people who attempted suicide in studies in the United States, Mexico and Turkey, as well as people in Europe who completed self-homicide.

One scientist went so far being of the cl~s who to speculate that toxo “could easily take miasma down from its throne” of subsistence the most deadly parasite in the earth, especially if more evidence shows that lifelong hidden infection increases the risk of self-murder, as well as other incidents resulting from assailing behavior.

Is toxo really the expose to danger factor?

Despite the evidence found to fix the ~ of, it is still not possible to assert whether toxo infections cause these illnesses, uttered William Sullivan, professor of pharmacology and toxicology, microbiology and immunology at the Indiana University School of Medicine.

Research has purely suggested that people with psychiatric disorders occur to be more likely to hold been exposed to toxo. “Correlation in addition correlation plus correlation does not like causation,” Sullivan said.

Sullivan suspects that toxo is not enough on its own to bring on the disorder and that another, as yet unhonored, risk factor could also be involved.

A favorable way to find out whether toxo faithfully causes mental health disorders and changes in bearing would be to give people by schizophrenia a drug that clears their quiescent toxo infection and see whether their symptoms improve, Sullivan reported. But no such drug exists.

There are medications because toxo, but they only stop the flunky from replicating inside the body — to intercept the infection from spreading — and cannot reparative latent infections. These drugs are recommended with regard to pregnant women, to reduce their chances of excessively the parasite on to their babies, considered in the state of well as people with weakened right.

Cats aren’t the only ones to reflect upon

According to Sullivan, there are other ways to set off infected with toxo, including eating chilly meat, which can harbor the flunky, and gardening or working with mould, where toxo can survive for separate years.

A study by Torrey cast that there can be 100 toxo spores, or oocysts, inferior to a gardener’s fingernail. Those by a green thumb can take protective steps, such as wearing gloves and a visage mask.

People can also become infected through eating the raw meat of animals harboring the toad-eater. To prevent this, Sullivan advises that population make sure to cook meat thoroughly or otherwise to freeze the meat before corrosive it.

There is no one finished test for the diagnosis of vitamin B12 insufficiency.

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