May 2007 Issue

Danger: Toxoplasmosis

Experts discuss the truth — and the misinformation — surrounding this zoonotic disease. (We share some good news for cat lovers.)

Toxoplasmosis is a fairly common zoonosis (a disease that can be shared between humans and animals); 30 to 40 percent of adult humans, and roughly the same percentage of cats, have antibodies that indicate prior exposure to the organism that causes the disease. Nevertheless, its particulars are still unfamiliar to many people. The disease poses a threat primarily to fetuses and to immunosuppressed patients, but an understanding of the organism’s life cycle, how transmission occurs and can be avoided, and the signs of infection can greatly reduce the risk of serious disease.

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