Toxoplasmosis is an infectious disease caused by the one-celled protozoan parasite Toxoplasma gondii. Although most individuals do not experience any symptoms, the disease can be very serious, and even fatal, in individuals with weakened immune systems.
Though cats are the only hosts of this parasite and therefore serve as the main reservoir of infection. Cats become infected by eating rodents and birds infected with the organism. Once ingested, the organism reproduces in the intestines of cats, producing millions of eggs known as oocysts, which are excreted in cat feces daily for approximately two weeks.
The main source for T. gondii transmission is raw meat and unwashed fruits and vegetables. Both acute and chronic forms of toxoplasmosis exist, where the chronic form is usually a low-grade disease without any clinical symptoms, and the acute form is more symptomatic.
The following symptoms are known to occur in infected cats, and may also be seen in dogs:
Partial or complete paralysis
Respiratory problems like shortness of breath
Loss of appetite
Inflammation of tonsils (tonsillitis)
Inflammation of retina (retinitis)
Inflammation of middle part of the eye including iris (uveitis)
Inflammation of the cornea (keratitis)