Cat cuddlers, beware: Your pet may make you critically ill

Cats are definitely one of the cutest creation of God. But did you know that this little piece of happiness comes with many side effects?

Many of us have a soft corner towards animals which result in having pets at our home. Some of the people also share a very intimate relationship with their pets like they hug their pets most of the times, take them in their beds at nights, feed them with their own hands and some do not even have the habit of washing their hands after touching their pets. Such dirty habits may lead to many infections in the human body.
 Dr Jyoti Bhuyan, a  vet at the College of Veterinary Science, Guwahati in an exclusive conversation with Fit Northeast said that among all the pet animals and birds we love keeping, the most dangerous are the cats.
The reason behind calling cats the most dangerous is that they spread the maximum diseases.
"The feces of the cats contain a common parasite called the Toxoplasma  Gondi Parasite. Cats and other members of the cat family shed this parasite in their faces for 7 to 21 days from the first time they get infected," Bhuyan said. 
She said that in order to keep your cats away from such parasites, some simple steps should be followed like cleaning the cat litter box every day, feed cats with packed or tinned food, keep cats restricted to homes, keep domestic cats away from stray cats and kittens and keep the cats neat and clean.
The toxoplasma Gondi parasite can cause severe infection in human beings called Toxoplasmosis.
Dr. Rajib Bhuyan, a Guwahati-based pathologist, said that a patient with this infection may show symptoms like muscle pain, fever, headache continuously for several weeks accompanied by swollen lymph gland, inflammation in the lungs and retina.
The faeces of the cats contain a common parasite called the TOXOPLASMA GONDI PARASITE. Cats and other members of the cat family shed this parasite in their faeces for 7 to 21 days from the first time they get infected.
"It can be detected through a pathological test at a laboratory which will measure the immunoglobulin G in case of a general patient and immunoglobulin M if it is a pregnant woman. Along with this particular test, other blood tests might be required," he said. 
Representative image.
Image: Representative image.
Bhuyan said that it affects pregnant women and people with low immunity levels which can be cured through medication.
If a woman gets this infection during pregnancy, it might lead to abortion or a stillborn baby, he added.
"There is a situation called congenital toxoplasmosis in which the infective parasite may be present in the amniotic sac and spread to the child during pregnancy which might lead to a retarded growth of the child or even fatal in the mother's womb at the extreme levels. Most cases of this infection can be cured through medication," Bhuyan pointed out. 
People having cats should maintain a certain level of hygiene and in case if they depend on poultry products for their food, it should be cooked at 145 degrees to kill the germ.
Earlier there were cases of toxoplasmosis but there has been a dip in cases as a result of awareness of the people.
In India, around 19 per cent of the total population suffer from this issue. Out of 100, 30 women face abortion due to toxoplasmosis.

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