Submitted to: Journal of the Alabama Academy of Sciences
Publication Type: Review article
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/12/1997
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: Interpretive Summary: Cats can suffer from severe disease due to Toxoplasma gondii and are pivotal in the transmission of this parasite in nature. Cats and other Felidae are the only definitive hosts for the parasite and excrete the oocyst stage in their feces. Clinical signs of toxoplasmosis in cats include anterior uveitis, retinochoroiditis, dyspnea, polypnea, icterus, fever, abdominal discomfort, anorexia, seizures, ataxia and weight loss. Gross and microscopic lesions are found in many organs but are most common in the lungs. The most common clinical signs in transplacentally infected kittens are anorexia, lethargy, hypothermia and sudden death. The diagnosis of clinical toxoplasmosis requires that 3 criteria be fulfilled. The cat must have clinical signs consistent with toxoplasmosis, serological evidence of active infection, and the patient must respond to anti-T. gondii treatment or have the parasite demonstrated in its tissues or body fluids. Several serological tests can be used but many give unsatisfactory results and diagnosis should never be based on serology alone. Clindamycin is the drug of choice for the treatment of disseminated toxoplasmosis in cats. Because cats are involved in the transmission of T. gondii, great concern often arises in pregnant human owners of cats because of the potential of maternal transmission to the developing fetus. There is no significant increase in risk of toxoplasmosis in cat owners. The T. gondii titer of a cat offers little usable information. Pregnant women and immunocompromised patients should follow the guidelines for prevention of toxoplasmosis in humans and cats. Accurate knowledge of the biology of T. gondii in cats will aid veterinarians in counseling cat owners about potential risks associated with this parasite and cat ownership.