Chain of cat feces can harm humans, sea otters
February 22nd, 2012
10:38 AM ET

Chain of cat feces can harm humans, sea otters

There's more to cat excrement than meets the eye, and it may have the potential to cause disease in sea otters and humans alike.

A young cat can shed up to 100 million oocysts – little egg-like structures – in its feces. All it takes is one oocyst to cause an infection of Toxoplasma gondii.

Largely, the parasite is asymptomatic in humans, but it can sometimes cause problems for infants born to infected mothers – including hearing loss, mental disability and blindness. People with compromised immune systems, especially those who have HIV/AIDS, may also develop serious complications.

Researchers are trying to understand why marine mammals in the Pacific Northwest started dying of protozoal diseases starting in 2000; before then, there weren't any documented cases, but samples from the Pacific Northwest have found a rate of about 4% of protozoal disease among stranded animals, says Michael Grigg, investigator at the National Institutes of Health.

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Filed under: On Earth
soundoff (2 Responses)
  1. Ian Ganigan

    There is a diagnosis to determine the severity of the hearing impairment, and it is measured in decibels. It may be ranked as mild, moderate, moderately severe, severe or profound. There are a number of measures that can be taken to prevent hearing loss, but in some cases it is impossible to reverse or prevent. :..*'

    Please do read our favorite website http://healthmedicine.cobp

    June 22, 2013 at 9:50 am |
  2. portland tony

    I don't know why this is pertinent to anything. So what kind of cats are being discussed. Feral, domesticated, big etc? ? Are there too many of what ever?

    February 22, 2012 at 4:22 pm |

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