Atlas of livestock parasites
digitized collection of microscopical preparations

Atlas of Parasites Contents Information sources Glossary Administration

Toxoplasma gondii (cats)

Category:


Species:
Endoparasite


Description:
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Protozoa (coccidia)

Distribution: Worldwide.   

Host: Intestine and other tissues of cats and other felid (Toxoplasma) and dogs and the other canids (Neospora).  

Life Cycle: Toxoplasma is transmitted to cats by ingestion of cysts containing bradyzoites in tissues of intermediate hosts. Prenatal and transmammary transmission as well as direct transmission through ingestion of sporulated oocysts can also occur. Transmission of Neospora in dogs appears to be similar to Toxoplasma transmission.    

Diagnosis: Oocysts are detected in feces by centrifugal or simple fotation technique. However, very few oocysts of Neospora appear to be produced in infected dogs. Immunodiagnostic tests are available to identify current and past exposure to Toxoplasma in cats but are usually not positive until after fecal passage of oocysts has ceased. Dogs can also be tested for antibody to  Neospora. The small, spherical-shaped oocysts of the two genera are morphologically identical, have a clear smooth cyst wall, and contain a single round sporoblast.          

Size: 11–14 × 9–11 µm

Clinical features: Toxoplasma infections in cats are generally well tolerated. Clinical disease  (ocular, respiratory, etc.) can occur in cats, especially young or immunosuppressed animals. 

Toxoplasmosis is an important zoonotic disease with especially serious consequences in pregnant women and the immunosuppressed.

Congenital Neospora infection can result in severe central nervous system disease in dogs. Neospora infection is also an important cause of abortion in the bovine intermediate host.          

Cats have gotten a bad rap about how they transmit toxoplasmosis to humans and how they cause spontaneous abortion in women and blindness and mental retardation in newborns and older children.

While it is true that cats are the only definitive host for the infective stage of the Toxoplasma organism, they are not the most common source of human infection. The most efficient way to get toxoplasmosis from a cat is to eat the cat undercooked.


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