The dangers of cat feces exposure for pregnant women is well documented: cat poop can contain Toxoplasma gondii, one of the world’s most common parasites, which can cause the condition toxoplasmosis, which in turn can cause serious complications for a fetus. The condition can also cause dramatic brain infections for patients battling AIDS or other immunodeficiency disorders.
Now, two researchers from Maryland – E. Fuller Torrey, M.D., executive director of the Stanley Medical Research Institute and Robert H. Yolken, M.D., director of the Stanley Neurovirology Laboratory at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine – are expanding our understanding of additional risks Toxoplasma gondii may entail.
In an Expert Q & A with the duo earlier this month, CNN discussed the additional risks of Toxoplasma gondii, the types of research needed to fully understand the dangers of cat poop and how people can avoid exposure to the parasite.
According to the researchers, who view cat poop as a “vast and under-appreciated” public health issue:
“Recent studies suggest that individuals with disorders such as schizophrenia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, rheumatoid arthritis or brain tumors are more likely to have Toxoplasma gondii antibodies than other people. There are also suggestions that Toxoplasma gondii can affect memory and other cognitive function in people who are not otherwise ill. In no way have we established Toxoplasma gondii as a cause of these disorders, but it has led us to rethink the possible risks of cat poop.”
To learn more about the risks of cat poop according to Torrey and Yolken and how additional controls on feral cat populations could help reduce the challenges for at-risk populations, read the full CNN Expert Q&A here.