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Toxoplasma Gondii

 

There are estimated to be some 4,000 parasites in existence – and these are only the ones we know about.  1,000 of these can live in the human body.

Toxoplasmosis is one of the most asked-about parasitic infections because of the direct link between domestic cats and humans 

What is toxoplasmosis?

It is an infection caused by the parasite toxoplasma gondii.  Most people who are infected are unaware of it because the immune system usually keeps the parasite from causing illness. 

How do we get toxoplasmosis?

Infection generally occurs by:

-     swallowing cat faeces from an infected cat that is shedding. This can happen if your hands come into contact with your mouth after gardening, cleaning a cat's litter box, or touching anything that has come into contact with cat faeces.

-    eating contaminated raw or partly cooked meat, especially pork, lamb, or venison; by touching your hands to your mouth after handling undercooked meat.

-    contaminating food with knives, utensils, cutting boards and other foods that have had contact with raw meat.

-     drinking contaminated water.

-     receiving an infected organ transplant or blood transfusion.

What are the symptoms of toxoplasmosis?

You may feel as if you have "flu" with swollen lymph glands or muscle aches and pains that last for a month or longer. 

Severe toxoplasmosis, can cause damage to the brain, eyes, or other organs, and can develop from an acute infection or a reactivated infection that first occurred earlier in life. A healthy immune system usually safeguards against infection, though people with healthy immune systems have been known to experience eye damage from toxoplasmosis.

Most infants who are infected while still in the womb have no symptoms at birth, but they may develop symptoms later in life. A small percentage of infected newborns have serious eye or brain damage at birth.

An important message for women

Expectant mothers should be cautious because a toxoplasma infection can cause problems in pregnancy.   Toxoplasma Gondii has been known to cross the placenta. In some 40% of infected cases, the baby has also been infected. Infected infants are said to have congenital toxoplasmosis and may develop problems with the brain, eyes, heart, kidneys, blood, liver, or spleen. Long term effects may include seizures, mental retardation, cerebral palsy, deafness, and blindness.

If you have a cat during pregnancy, follow these tips:

-          get someone else prepare the cat’s meals and clean the litter box.  If you have to do this yourself, wear disposable gloves.

-          Change the litter box daily as the parasite does not become infectious for 1-5 days after it is shed in faeces.

-          Avoid stray cats, especially kittens. 

Some years ago, Jonathan Leake, Science Editor of the Daily Telegraph wrote the article ‘Dangerrrr: cats could alter your personality’,

Startling figures emerge from studies into toxoplasma gondii, a parasite carried by almost all of the country’s feline population. They show that half of Britain’s human population carries the parasite in their brains, and that infected people may undergo slow but crucial changes in their behaviour.

Infected men, suggests one new study, tend to become more aggressive, scruffy, antisocial and are less attractive. Women on the other hand appear to exhibit the ‘sex kitten’ effect, becoming less trustworthy, more desirable, more fun loving and possibly more promiscuous.

In his research into more subtle changes in human personality Professor Jaroslav Flegr of Charles University in Prague found women infected with toxoplasma spent more money on clothes, and were constantly rated as more attractive. “We found they were more easy-going, more warm-hearted, had more friends and cared more about how they looked.  However they were less trustworthy and had more relationships with men.”

By contrast, the infected men appeared to suffer from the “alley-cat” effect: becoming less well groomed undesirable loners who were more willing to fight. They were more likely to be suspicious and jealous. “They tended to dislike following rules” Flegr said. 

Flegr also discovered that people infected with toxoplasma had delayed reaction times and are at greater risk of being involved in car accidents.'

General common sense precautions

-     wash your hands with soap regularly, especially after contact with raw meat, soil, sand and unwashed vegetables.

-     cook meats thoroughly

-     wash all cutting knives properly

-     wash all fruits and vegetables before eating

An important note on cat litter – get into the habit of replacing the litter regularly as dirty litter trays can be a significant source of respiratory,  bowel and kidney disease for cats and especially kittens. Commercial litter is made from sodium bentonite.  This naturally swelling clay ingredient is a very effective clumping agent. When liquid is added, the bentonite swells up to 15 times its original volume. But because sodium bentonite acts as an expandable cement would, litters containing sodium bentonite should never be flushed; when they expand they can block plumbing.  Kittens often swallow particles of litter when licking themselves.  This can cause considerable internal damage and particles of clay can take many weeks to pass through the cat’s digestive system.  Tell your local pet shop you want to switch to a plant based litter.

Ancient Herbal Remedies

Natural Balance and Natural Cleanse will help eliminate parasites from your body.  Natural Balance works as a shoehorn helping to cleanse the colon and eliminate heavy metals and toxins in your body.  Formulated as a broad-spectrum application, the herbs in Natural Cleanse are effective against the different parasite types because they work from the perspective of taste, texture and heat.

We sprinkle ¼ to 1/3 capsule of Natural Cleanse onto our cats’ food each morning. They will always ingest parasites from food caught in the wild so it’s important to keep them eliminating before the parasites start reproducing, and passing the parasites onto you.

If you have horses we have Natural Cleanse for larger animals available.  Please contact us first.

To read more about Natural Balance and Natural Cleanse click on the links

These articles are the opinions of Graeme and Phylipa Dinnen and are intended as guidance and support. If you have any medical condition you should first consult your doctor.


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