Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Parasites in cat feces: Potential public health problem?

Date:
July 9, 2013
Source:
Cell Press
Summary:
Each year in the United States, cats deposit about 1.2 million metric tons of feces into the environment, and that poop is carrying with it what may be a vast and underappreciated public health problem, say scientists.

Each year in the United States, cats deposit about 1.2 million metric tons of feces into the environment, and that poop is carrying with it what may be a vast and underappreciated public health problem.
Credit: Africa Studio / Fotolia

Each year in the United States, cats deposit about 1.2 million metric tons of feces into the environment, and that poop is carrying with it what may be a vast and underappreciated public health problem, say scientists July 9 in the journal Trends in Parasitology, a Cell Press publication.

Some of that poop is laden with an infectious parasite known as Toxoplasma gondii, a protozoan that has recently caused toxoplasmosis epidemics in otherwise healthy people, not just in pregnant women or people with immune deficiencies. Additional concerns have been raised by studies linking T. gondii to schizophrenia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, rheumatoid arthritis, brain cancer, and even to kids' trouble in school.

"The accumulation of Toxoplasma gondii oocysts, found in cat feces, may be a much bigger problem than we realize because of their apparent long life and their association with some diseases," said E. Fuller Torrey, who directs the Stanley Medical Research Institute.

He calls for better control of the cat population, especially feral cats, and more research. Surveys have shown that our backyards and communities may harbor three to 400 oocysts per square foot or more in places where cats frequently leave deposits. Each and every one of those oocysts has the potential to cause an infection.

As for the cats, they typically become infected upon hunting and eating an infected bird, mouse, or other small mammal. Then, they spread oocysts around into the soil, grass, water, and elsewhere.

For cat owners, there is little need to worry if your cats stay indoors, Torrey says. If your feline friend (or your neighbors') does spend time outside, take care with litter boxes, keep sandboxes covered, and wear gloves when gardening. One estimate shows that the dirt under ones fingernails could harbor up to 100 T. gondii oocysts.

Torrey and coauthor Robert Yolken of Johns Hopkins University Medical Center recommend extra care with young children, who may be at the greatest risk. But, at this point, there are still many unknowns.

Is it worth getting tested? "No," Torrey says, except perhaps in the case of pregnant women. "Fifteen percent of us have antibodies, including me." And, he adds, someone who tests positive at one point in time can later test negative.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Cell Press. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. E. Fuller Torrey and Robert H. Yolken. Toxoplasma oocysts as a public health problem. Trends in Parasitology, 2013 DOI: 10.1016/j.pt.2013.06.001

Cite This Page:

Cell Press. "Parasites in cat feces: Potential public health problem?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 July 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130709124130.htm>.
Cell Press. (2013, July 9). Parasites in cat feces: Potential public health problem?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130709124130.htm
Cell Press. "Parasites in cat feces: Potential public health problem?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130709124130.htm (accessed July 22, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Michigan Plant's Goal: Flower and Die

Michigan Plant's Goal: Flower and Die

AP (July 22, 2014) An 80-year-old agave plant, which is blooming for the first and only time at a University of Michigan conservatory, will die when it's done (July 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
San Diego Zoo Welcomes New, Rare Rhino Calf

San Diego Zoo Welcomes New, Rare Rhino Calf

Reuters - US Online Video (July 21, 2014) An endangered black rhino baby is the newest resident at the San Diego Zoo. Sasha Salama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Shark Sightings a Big Catch for Cape Tourism

Shark Sightings a Big Catch for Cape Tourism

AP (July 21, 2014) A rise in shark sightings along the shores of Chatham, Massachusetts is driving a surge of eager vacationers to the beach town looking to catch a glimpse of a great white. (July 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
$23.6 Billion Awarded To Widow In Smoking Lawsuit

$23.6 Billion Awarded To Widow In Smoking Lawsuit

Newsy (July 20, 2014) Cynthia Robinson claims R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company hid the health and addiction risks of its products, leading to the death of her husband in 1996. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins