Toxoplasmosis, HIV Infection and Cat Ownership

Hey there Guys. Today in the news there has been a spike in stories about toxoplasmosis, a parasite that can be frequently found in cat faeces.

Within the community many people have been exposed to toxoplasmosis. With normal immune system function toxoplasmosis has little symptoms and causes no issue.

If infected, toxoplasmosis can reactivate during pregnancy and at times when the immune system has reduced function such as during chemotherapy treatment or HIV infection with a CD4 count below 100 cells/mm.

For this reason HIV positive people who’s CD4 count is below 100 are recommend to go onto a preventative antibiotic to avoid activation of the infection.

If you are living with HIV and have a cat it may be worth considering a few simple guides to help reduce the risk of infection.

Dr. E. Fuller Torrey,  executive director of the Stanley Medical Research Institute in Chevy Chase, Maryland, recommends the following guidelines to reduce risk of infection with toxoplasmosis:

• Cat litter should be properly disposed of in the garbage, not flushed down the toilet where it can enter rivers and lakes.

• Children’s sandboxes and play areas should be covered when not in use. Cats selectively relieve themselves in areas with loose soil or sand. In the studies we reviewed, we found very high concentrations of Toxoplasma gondii oocysts in these areas. If a sandbox has not been covered, the sand should be replaced and then kept covered.

• Gardeners should wear gloves since gardens are another favorite place for cats to relieve themselves. One study reported that gardeners may have as many as 100 oocysts in dirt under their fingernails.

• Vegetables from gardens should be thoroughly washed.

Indoor only cats are noted to have a very low risk of passing on the toxoplasmosis infection.

Yours in good health.

Dr George