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Statement about Toxoplasmois

04 September 2012

4 September 2012 - Statement about Toxoplasmois

There have been various media reports claiming that over 1,000 people a day are being infected by a dangerous parasite spread by cats - Toxoplasma.

 

We have issued the below response which has been sent to the national press. Please feel free to use it as appropriate and to refer any journalist enquiries to the Media Office T. 01825 741 911. 

 

"Following today's press reports about a parasite said to be spread by cats, Cats Protection would like to point out that statistically a cat owner is no more or less likely to contract Toxoplasma gondii than a non-cat owner.

 

While cats are the definitive host for T. gondii, research has shown that contact with cats is not a risk factor for infection and even vets are no more likely to be infected with the parasite than non-vets. Most people contract Toxoplasmosis through other routes such as eating undercooked meat, inadvertently ingesting contaminated soil through gardening or eating unwashed vegetables.

 

It is already known that Toxoplasma is common in people (for example around 80% of people in France and Germany and up to around 33% of Britons have been infected at some point in their lives) but it's important to note that serious effects are extremely rare.  To reduce the risk of infection especially important for those in higher risk groups, both cat owners and non-cat owners can take sensible precautions, such as practising good food hygiene, wearing gloves when gardening and cleaning out litter trays.

 

As a charity that struggles to find homes for the UK's unwanted cats, we are extremely concerned that putting the emphasis on felines may discourage people from adopting a cat or encourage cat owners to unnecessarily give up their pets. Let us also not forget the many benefits and enrichment that cats bring to the lives of their owners."