Don't Panic

3 year ago · Bobbie · 0 Comment
There's no reason to think that Toxo infestation is going to bring on the equivalent of a zombie apocalypse. Infection rates in the United States are significantly lower than in other countries. In the U.S., it is estimated that 10% to 20% of the population may be infected, compared to up to 55% in France, Czech Republic with 30% to 40%, and the incidence of infection may be as high as 95% in parts of the developing world.

There is, unfortunately, no effective treatment for Toxo at this time. Once infested, the parasite is there to stay. That doesn't mean you should immediately get rid of your beloved cats. It is only outdoor cats who are prone to bring Toxo into your home. An outdoor cat typically only sheds Toxo for about three weeks when they're young. Flegr advises protective measures such as keeping kitchen counters clean, thoroughly washing all vegetables and fruits, and avoiding improperly purified water.

Don't panic
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Are you infected? This brain parasite is far more common than you think. (6 Photos)

"Toxoplasma gondii." That's the fancy name for it. "Toxo" is its shortened nickname. You've probably never heard of it, but odds are you've probably got it.

This is not some deadly disease that's going to turn you into a zombie or some other marauder. Toxo is a parasite that normally makes its home in rats, but it actually breeds more of its own kind in the belly of cats. Sounds weird, right? Toxo is insidious in its nature. It works its way into the brains of the rats, essentially making the rats think the cats look quite attractive. The rat basically becomes suicidal, placing itself in positions where it can actually attract the cat's attention. The cat does what comes naturally to it, of course. The result is a dead rat, a well-fed cat, and a parasite that is now transferred from host to incubator.

The traditional thinking was that Toxo was not a real problem for any human who happened to pick it up. If a person had an impaired immune system, the parasite's presence could cause complications. But, for the most part, healthy adults who contracted the parasite would experience flu-like symptoms for a short period of time. The body would fight off the parasite, the parasite would be forced into a dormant state, and there it would remain, doing no harm and going unnoticed.

That used to be the school of thought on the matter, anyway.

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