Cat poop may pose neighborhood health risk - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Cat poop may pose neighborhood health risk

Updated: July 9, 2013 03:02 PM
© iStockphoto.com / Cynthia Baldauf © iStockphoto.com / Cynthia Baldauf
  • Health Connections - Featured Health SpecialistsHealth PartnersMore>>

  • Scott Pharmacy

    Scott Pharmacy


    Scott Pharmacy, Inc. is a privately owned and operated business that has served the residents of Fayette County for more than 30 years. We are loyal to our patients.
    More >>

    Scott Pharmacy, Inc. is a privately owned and operated business that has served the residents of Fayette County for more than 30 years. We are loyal to our patients and will ensure that your order is filled quickly and correctly.
    More >>
  • Cedar Valley Medical Specialists

    Cedar Valley Medical Specialists


    Cedar Valley Medical Specialists, P.C. represents more than 60 providers in 20+ medical fields. By working together, the professional providers of Cedar Valley Medical Specialists, P.C. have focused our delivery
    More >>
    Cedar Valley Medical Specialists, P.C. represents more than 60 providers in 20+ medical fields. By working together, the professional providers of Cedar Valley Medical Specialists, P.C. have focused our delivery of quality healthcare on you and your family.More >>

TUESDAY, July 9 (HealthDay News) -- Parasites in cat droppings may pose a potential public health problem, experts warn.

Cats leave about 1.2 million metric tons of feces in the environment yearly in the United States alone. Some of that waste contains an infectious parasite called Toxoplasma gondii, which has recently caused toxoplasmosis epidemics in otherwise healthy people, not only in pregnant women or people with weakened immune systems.

Women newly infected during pregnancy can pass the toxoplasmosis infection to unborn children with possible severe consequences such as diseases of the eyes and nervous system, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Research has also linked T. gondii to schizophrenia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, rheumatoid arthritis, brain cancer and even children having trouble in school, according to the article, which was published in the July 9 issue of the journal Trends in Parasitology.

"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, director of the Stanley Medical Research Institute.

Research has shown that backyards and communities may contain more than 400 oocysts per square foot in places where cats frequently leave feces, according to a journal news release. Even a single oocyst can cause an infection.

Cats typically become infected when they eat infected birds, mice or other small animals. Torrey called for better control of outdoor cats. There is little need to worry about indoor cats, he said.

The researchers offered some prevention advice. If your cat or a neighbor's cat spends time outdoors, take care with litter boxes, keep sandboxes covered and wear gloves when gardening. Dirt under your fingernails could contain up to 100 T. gondii oocysts, according to one estimate. Be extra careful if you have young children.

Other than pregnant women, people shouldn't bother getting tested, Torrey said. Fifteen percent of people have antibodies and someone who tests positive at one point can later test negative.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about toxoplasmosis.

Health News Copyright © 2013 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

*DISCLAIMER*: The information contained in or provided through this site section is intended for general consumer understanding and education only and is not intended to be and is not a substitute for professional advice. Use of this site section and any information contained on or provided through this site section is at your own risk and any information contained on or provided through this site section is provided on an "as is" basis without any representations or warranties.
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and KWWL. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service and Mobile Privacy Policy & Terms of Service.

Persons with disabilities who need assistance with issues relating to the content of this station's public inspection file should contact Administrative Assistant Sandy Youngblut at 319-291-1259. Questions or concerns relating to the accessibility of the FCC's online public file system should be directed to the FCC at 888-225-5322, at 888-835-5322 (TTY) or at fccinfo@fcc.gov.