This July, the online newsfeeds are buzzing with the latest sensation and I don’t mean the breakup of Tom and Katie. It is stories connecting Toxoplasmosis with a higher likelihood of suicide in women.
Toxoplasmosis? You know. That thing you could get from a cat’s litter box.
Toxoplasma gondii is a parasite that infects over one-third of the world’s population – even non-cat owners. In people, it causes mono- or flu-like symptoms. Most of us would not even know we have it. In extreme cases, however, it can cause inflammation of the brain and other neurologic diseases such as obsessive compulsive disorder and schizophrenia.
We’ve all heard that pregnant women should not scoop or clean their cat’s litter box because it puts their babies in danger of Toxoplasmosis. For long-time cat owners, chances are mom is already exposed, thus the risk for the baby is diminished. However, for moms who have not been exposed, it is a good idea to not take chances. Sorry dad, you may have to clean out the box for a while.
Recently, results of a 14 year study of over 45,000 Danish women showed that a quarter of them were infected with Toxoplasmosis from birth. It further revealed that just over 1 percent (488) cut, burned, or otherwise hurt themselves. Sadly, the report showed that 78 of the women tried to take their own lives (.17 percent) with 18 being successful.
“Women with a T gondii infection have an increased risk of self-directed violence,” wrote study leader Teodor Postolache at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore in the Archives of General Psychiatry.
Before everyone starts throwing the cat out with the cat litter, there are many ways a human can be infected with Toxoplasma gondii:
•eating undercooked meat
•not washing fresh veggies before consuming
•not washing your hands after digging in your garden
•not washing your hands after scooping the litter box
Consider “that there are 90 million pet cats in America, and an estimated over 500 million around the globe. Yet, there isn’t one verified published report of a suicide directly related to toxoplasmosis, let alone T. gondii transmitted via a cat.” Cat Fancy Magazine.
The most effective weapons against T. gondii are hand washing, washing raw veggies, properly cooking meat, and not using a knife exposed to raw meat on cooked meat or raw veggies (common sense right?).
So, keep loving your kitty and washing your hands.
by Kathy Covey 7/12