Editor’s Note: Healthy Paws is a column sponsored and written by the owners of Clarendon Animal Care, a full-service, general practice veterinary clinic and winner of a 2017 Arlington Chamber of Commerce Best Business Award. The clinic is located 3000 10th Street N., Suite B. and can be reached at 703-997-9776.
Can I catch that from my pet? This is a common question we hear as veterinarians, and as such have made this a recurring topic.
This week we cover Toxoplasmosis… for a few reasons;
- It’s a freaking cool parasite with a really neat life cycle and can manipulate the brain (what!?)
- You can catch it from your pet
- But you’re more likely to catch it while gardening…
Toxoplasma gondii is a microscopic protozoal parasite that is found in the environment. It’s main life cycle is between cat and mouse.
A mouse will become infected with Toxoplasma oocytes (eggs) in the soil and water. The oocytes hatch and the little baby Toxoplasma go to the rodents’ muscles and brain.
This is the cool part: Toxoplasma actually changes the way a mouse thinks and causes the mouse to become attracted to cat urine and makes them no longer afraid of cats. Basically, it makes the mouse a very easy target.
The cat eats the mouse and the baby Toxoplasma grows up in the digestive tract of the cat, so that new oocytes can be spread through the stool. In humans, this brain manipulation is being studied and there are suspected links between Toxoplasma infection and certain human psychoses.
Humans are “dead end hosts” of Toxoplasma, which means that the parasite can infect us, but cannot reproduce in our digestive tract like it can in the cat. Toxoplasma that is shed in a cat’s stool is infectious only after it’s been out of the cat for at least 24 hours.
This means scooping the litter box at the same time every day along with wearing gloves and washing hands thoroughly afterwards can decrease the risk of contracting Toxoplasmosis.
In certain cases, it can cause serious illness. Those that are more prone to the serious effects of Toxoplasma are YOPI’s: Young, Old, Pregnant or Immunosuppressed. If you or any of your family members fall into one of those categories, and you have a cat that hunts or goes outside, please discuss this with your physician.
This is especially true for pregnant women, as Toxoplasmosis can cause birth defects. Please note that if you are pregnant, you do not need to give up your cat. If you have concerns, please discuss this with your physician.
There are other much more common ways to get Toxoplasma and the two big ones are gardening and eating undercooked meat, especially pork, lamb, mutton and wild game as these are other common dead end hosts.
Wearing gloves and thorough hand washing after working in the garden are highly recommended and always cook your meat to 145 degrees or higher. Fresh fruits and vegetables should be peeled or washed thoroughly.
If your child likes to play in sandboxes, make sure to only play in ones that are covered when not in use, don’t allow your child to eat the sand and wash yours and your child’s hands thoroughly. After all, sandboxes are just big o’ litter boxes to a cat!
While Toxoplasma can be a serious illness for some people, there are ways to significantly reduce risk to you and your family. For more information, check out these additional tips from Worms and Germs Blog or the CDC.
Everyone has flat screen TVs already so how about a more interesting Black Friday special? The ARLnow Press Club for free, to try out the daily Early Morning Notes email…
There’s not a whole lot going on in Arlington today, save for activity at local shopping centers, so we’re going to fast forward right to the top story countdown. Here…
Statues of Liberty gives thanks this holiday season and grateful for a few things this year.
It’s turkey time. Thanksgiving Eve is upon us and extra revelry can be expected at some local bars tonight, ahead of the holiday. Please be careful on the roads and…
The Optimist Club of Arlington is holding its 76th annual Christmas tree sale!
This year, the tree sale will be held at the Knights of Columbus (5115 Little Falls Road). The lot opens for sales on November 25th. The Optimist Club is selling small and large trees ranging from tabletop size to huge 14 foot tall trees! Wreaths, garlands, tree stands, and White House Christmas ornaments will also be for sale.
100% of all proceeds go towards helping Arlington County youth.
For more information, please visit the Arlington Optimists website at https://optimistclubofarlingtonva.org/.
Art House 7 is a small art studio in Arlington – offering instruction in painting, ceramics, sewing and more. We are looking for kind, dedicated people who love both creating and teaching.
Ceramic Teachers are needed to teach wheel-throwing to adults and 6-12th graders and to teach hand building to elementary grades. Classes have 3-8 students.
Drawing teachers are needed to teach either kids or adults. For kids, we offer cartooning, manga or traditional drawing. For adults, we only offer traditional drawing.
Painting teachers are needed to teach either kids or adults. We offer oil, acrylic or watercolor for adults or teens. All elementary classes use acrylic and tempera.
NCE’s Holiday Concert will bring the finest classical masterpieces and holiday favorites together for the whole family. The festivities begin with Leroy Anderson’s classic “Sleigh Ride” and “Chanukkah Festival”, music from the Nutcracker and by J.S. Bach.
Outstanding Young Artist