That sweet little cat that purrs and sits on your lap could be carrying a disease that can facilitate miscarriages, fetal development disorders, weeks of flu-like illness, blindness, and even death. It has also been associated with mental health problems, including schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
The parasite toxoplasma gondii (T. gondii) is one of the most commonly carried parasites. It can attach itself to, and infect, any warm-blooded species, and is often carried by cats. It is possible that you may be carrying it yourself. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that more than 60 million people in the U.S. may have it.
If you do have it, you may not notice it or have any symptoms, although people with weakened immune systems are much more likely to exhibit symptoms and be affected. If you are infected with T. gondii you can contract an illness called toxoplasmosis, which could lead to flu-like symptoms or miscarriages if you are pregnant. Two more studies have been published that associate it with mental health disorders…
Nearly one quarter of adults and adolescents in the United States have been infected with T. gondii… Estimates of the incidence of congenital infection in the United States range from 400 per year to 4,000 per year, but because toxoplasmosis is not a nationally reportable disease, the true magnitude of disease is not known.
The annual economic impact of toxoplasmosis in the United States is estimated to be $7.7 billion. Most T. gondii infections among humans occur in one of three ways: 1) by eating raw or undercooked meat containing T. gondii tissue cysts or eating food that has been crosscontaminated with raw/undercooked meat; 2) by ingesting oocysts from soil (for example, through gardening, handling/eating unwashed vegetables, or changing a cat litter box); or 3) by acquiring congenital infection through the placenta. Of the estimated 750 deaths caused by toxoplasmosis in the United States each year, 375 are thought to occur from eating raw or undercooked meat; this makes toxoplasmosis the third-leading cause of US foodborne death…