is an infection caused by a tiny parasite that infects birds and mammals,
including humans. Cats are the only live carriers of toxoplasmosis. When a cat
is infected, its feces contain toxoplasma eggs for about 2 weeks. These eggs
can survive in moist soil for up to 18 months. Eggs in soil or sand can also
contaminate food and water.
Cats that never go outside and do not
catch mice indoors cannot be infected with toxoplasmosis.
Infection by mouth
You can get toxoplasmosis from
cat feces or in contaminated food or water. People most often get toxoplasmosis
- Eating the eggs. You
can become infected by mouth after touching anything that has come into contact
with infected cat feces, such as when cleaning a cat's litter box or gardening
where a cat has left feces. Eating contaminated food, such as unwashed
vegetables, or eating with contaminated hands are examples of how you can get
infected with toxoplasma eggs.
- Eating the meat of an infected animal. You can get toxoplasmosis from meat that is not
fully cooked or has not been frozen. For more information on meat preparation,
Prevention section of this topic.
If you are first infected while
you are pregnant or up to 8 weeks before becoming pregnant, you can pass the
parasite on to your growing baby (fetus). If you have already developed
immunity to toxoplasmosis before pregnancy, you cannot get reinfected or pass
the infection on to your fetus.
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