A  A  A   Print
Cat Poop May Pose Health Risk

Cat Poop May Pose Health Risk

TUESDAY, July 9 (HealthDay News) -- Parasites in cat droppings may pose a potential public health problem, experts warn.

Cats leave about 1.2 million metric tons of feces in the environment yearly in the United States alone. Some of that waste contains an infectious parasite called Toxoplasma gondii, which has recently caused toxoplasmosis epidemics in otherwise healthy people, not only in pregnant women or people with weakened immune systems.

Women newly infected during pregnancy can pass the toxoplasmosis infection to unborn children with possible severe consequences such as diseases of the eyes and nervous system, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Research has also linked T. gondii to schizophrenia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, rheumatoid arthritis, brain cancer and even children having trouble in school, according to the article, which was published in the July 9 issue of the journal Trends in Parasitology.

"The accumulation of Toxoplasma gondii oocysts, found in cat feces, may be a much bigger problem than we realize because of their apparent long life and their association with some diseases," said E. Fuller Torrey, director of the Stanley Medical Research Institute.

Research has shown that backyards and communities may contain more than 400 oocysts per square foot in places where cats frequently leave feces, according to a journal news release. Even a single oocyst can cause an infection.

Cats typically become infected when they eat infected birds, mice or other small animals. Torrey called for better control of outdoor cats. There is little need to worry about indoor cats, he said.

The researchers offered some prevention advice. If your cat or a neighbor's cat spends time outdoors, take care with litter boxes, keep sandboxes covered and wear gloves when gardening. Dirt under your fingernails could contain up to 100 T. gondii oocysts, according to one estimate. Be extra careful if you have young children.

Other than pregnant women, people shouldn't bother getting tested, Torrey said. Fifteen percent of people have antibodies and someone who tests positive at one point can later test negative.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about toxoplasmosis.

SOURCE: Trends in Parasitology, news release, July 9, 2013

 
Today's Interactive Tools

The third-party content provided in the Health Library of phoebeputney.com is for informational purposes only and is not designed to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease, or replace the professional medical advice you receive from your physician. If you or your child has or suspect you may have a health problem, please consult your primary care physician. If you or your child may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 or other emergency health care provider immediately in the United States or the appropriate health agency of your country. For more information regarding site usage, please visit: Privacy Information, Terms of Use or Disclaimer.

Follow us online:

© 2014 Phoebe Putney Health System  |  417 Third Avenue, Albany, Georgia 31701  |  Telephone 877.312.1167

Phoebe Putney Health System is a network of hospitals, family medicine clinics, rehab facilities, auxiliary services, and medical education training facilities. Founded in 1911,
Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital (the flagship hospital) is one of Georgia's largest comprehensive regional medical centers. From the beginning, Phoebe's mission and vision
has been to bring the finest medical talent and technology to the citizens of Southwest Georgia, and to serve all citizens of the community regardless of ability to pay.