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Chain of cat feces can harm humans, sea otters
A young cat can shed up to 100 million oocysts -- little egg-like structures -- in its feces.
February 19th, 2012
08:28 PM 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.

Grigg and other experts discussed these issues Sunday at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) annual meeting in Vancouver.

Cat feces may be part of the explanation, the scientists said.

When humans settle near shorelines, that can accentuate land-to-sea pollution. The toxoplasma gondii oocysts from cats can get into the ocean through storm runoff. From there, it can get into mussels and other bivalves that sea otters eat, for example. Humans who eat raw shellfish may likewise be at risk.

Up to 25% of Americans are infected with toxoplasmosis, and in some parts of Europe it's as much as 50%, Grigg said. Humans carry it throughout their lives. It's not known why there are more people who have the infection in Europe, although dietary habits (eating raw meat/fish) be a factor.

There are also strains of this parasite in nature in French Guiana and Suriname that are lethal to people, Grigg said.

Over the past few years,  scientists have been investigating a new form of Toxoplasma gondii ominously called Type X. It was first discovered in sea otters, and it's a combination of the familiar Type II strain and a unique strain of the parasite. It's unclear whether Type X is more serious than Type II, but Type X represents about 40% of infections.

In the few cases where Type X has been found in humans, it was problematic, but there were other immune system compromising factors - one patient was elderly, and one had had a transplant of some kind, Grigg said.

Toxoplasma gondii oocysts can't be destroyed with ultraviolet light or chlorine bleach - only freezing or boiling can kill them, Grigg said. For instance, there was a big outbreak in 1995 in Victoria, British Columbia, likely because the municipal water system was using unfiltered water.

Not all cats have toxoplasmosis, but a large majority do get infected, Grigg said. And they only secrete oocysts when they're young. But if 10% of the 86 million cats owned as pets in the U.S. were infected, that's still a whole lot of little parasite-infecting eggs.

That doesn't mean you shouldn't eat shellfish at all. Pay attention to to where it's harvested and when, says Melissa Miller of the Marine Wildlife Veterinary Care and Research Center in California. But there could be issues with raw or undercooked foods of all kinds, including shellfish. "There's far more that we don't know than we know," she told reporters.

There's ongoing research into a Toxoplasma gondii vaccine for cats, although one is not available yet.

In the meantime, you can take some precautions to prevent parasites from your cat's litter from getting into the water. Miller says she picks out the poop from the litter box and puts it into plastic bags and sends it to an approved landfill. Miller says she also keeps her cats indoors.

And even though parasites can recombine into different parasites, Grigg says we shouldn't be worried about a new toxoplasma parasite that's truly catastrophic to the human species.

"What we would expect is that nature will sort out what’s the right fit, the strain that doesn’t cause too much disease and can be maintained in nature," Grigg told CNN. "I don’t think there’s some big pathogenic strain that’s going to emerge and kill a lot of people."


soundoff (283 Responses)
  1. Nocatorkittens

    Cats and Dogs are nasty – regardless of whether their poo can hurt you or not.

    February 20, 2012 at 13:16 | Report abuse | Reply
    • cari

      i love love love my animals!

      February 20, 2012 at 13:58 | Report abuse |
    • Binky42

      And human beings aren't nasty? Ever seen a daytime talk show?

      February 20, 2012 at 14:09 | Report abuse |
    • Lew

      I actually ate cat poop once. It was an accident. But I went to the doctor for all kinds of tests and they determined that not only was I in perfect health, but my balance was better and I could see perfectly in the dark. lolololol..........This is not news...this is a boring story and now people will get all freaked out over nothng!

      February 20, 2012 at 14:59 | Report abuse |
    • x5431n

      Funny; my cat says the same thing about people...

      February 20, 2012 at 15:57 | Report abuse |
    • nancy

      Oh yeah? Quit picking your nose.

      February 20, 2012 at 17:05 | Report abuse |
    • TheOracle8191

      Funny thing is, the entirety of a cat/dog and their feces are STILL less nasty and less bacteria ridden than the human mouth.

      February 20, 2012 at 20:41 | Report abuse |
    • urouttolunch

      No, you're nasty. I would choose any dog or cat I've ever known over you, because they are, at their basis, loving. Even the ones that have been abused and damaged by humans are far ahead of you. Let's just remember, people transmit much nastier stuff to each other than cats and dogs do, and if we – as humans – were showing reasonable responsibility with the oceans, we wouldn't have problems there, either. The cats aren't pooping in the oceans. It's what we've done.

      February 20, 2012 at 21:56 | Report abuse |
    • informedunionvoter

      Pfffftttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttt! How rude.

      February 20, 2012 at 22:17 | Report abuse |
    • julia

      Well you know what doctors may heal wounds but animals heal our hearts. I got my cat when is was six and each night my cat sleeps whit me in my bed under the covers. She even knows how to come to her name, sit, stay, lay down, turn around and even dance. Once she even let me paint her nails. I also have a horse and bunnies so you your option sucks.

      February 21, 2012 at 00:32 | Report abuse |
  2. Abraham Ben Judea

    To those people who think cats are clean because they are always licking themselves....I got news for you, and it's not good...When a feline gives birth and is taking care of those kittens who have not learned the proper way to dispose of its own excreta. The female feline licks and swallows the excreta from her kittens...She then will spend some time licking or grooming herself. Guess what happens when we touch or pick up that feline who recently gave birth and just groomed itself?
    How do I know this? Direct observation...

    February 20, 2012 at 13:39 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Bob

      You sir are a hero and a prophet.

      February 20, 2012 at 13:51 | Report abuse |
    • Binky42

      They don't eat their kitten's feces. They lick them to encourage them to defecate. When we found some abandoned kittens in a gutter who were too young to be away from their mother, the vet told us to use a soft damp cloth and gently wipe them to mimic the action of the mother.

      February 20, 2012 at 14:11 | Report abuse |
    • x5431n

      Amen, Bob.

      February 20, 2012 at 15:59 | Report abuse |
    • got clean?

      Now Abraham, don't you like your girl to swallow? Do you? You do the same thing. I bet you don't wash your hands with soap and water after toileting either- gothcha!

      February 20, 2012 at 20:06 | Report abuse |
    • TheOracle8191

      Hail, Blinky!!

      February 20, 2012 at 20:42 | Report abuse |
  3. John D.

    This is old news.

    February 20, 2012 at 14:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Miss Such-and-Such

    Everybody hurry up and FREAK OUT!

    February 20, 2012 at 14:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. SCG

    This is beyond silly! What about all the meat eaters out there? ALL animals are exposed to and at some point will ingest feces – either their own or from another animal. Parasites & toxins are in ALL animals & fish too!

    Many people eat meat. Think about what you are "really" eating next time you bite into that hamburger ... "You are what you eat"

    February 20, 2012 at 14:18 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Bill M

      I'm trying to limit my meat intake due to blood lipid issues and possible cancer links. But your arguments are not logical. Even if meat is occasionally infected, it is virtually always cooked thoroughly, which will kill almost all viruses, bacteria, and parasites. No such heat treatment is generally done with cat manure and litter.

      February 21, 2012 at 00:14 | Report abuse |
  6. JAG0419

    If I had the choice of cleaning my cat's litter box after a week or my kid's bathroom I'd choose to clean the litter box 6 times.

    Dr. Gupta: Cats are nasty. So are people.
    BTW, This is rarely an issue if you keep the kitties indoors.

    February 20, 2012 at 14:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. erich2112x

    Dogs are man's best friend–cats hate us. End of story.

    February 20, 2012 at 14:48 | Report abuse | Reply
    • urouttolunch

      Well, I'm sure any reasonably intelligent cat doesn't like you much

      February 20, 2012 at 23:22 | Report abuse |
    • Rein

      I suppose dogs are biting people ten times more often than cats because they love us.

      February 21, 2012 at 10:14 | Report abuse |
  8. Maverick

    Hows bout we kill all cats and dogs.....sell them all Korea for food. Small children too.....they poo poo diapiers and it stinks.

    February 20, 2012 at 15:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Chris

    I first learned of this from the movie Trainspotting years ago. Poor Tommy died from his kitten shyting all over the place.

    February 20, 2012 at 15:11 | Report abuse | Reply
    • OvernOut

      What? No spoiler alert? Thanks for wrecking a film, pal.

      February 21, 2012 at 08:48 | Report abuse |
  10. Ron Burgundy

    Uh-oh...that's what I get for telling San Diego to go f itself.

    February 20, 2012 at 15:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. I can haz

    This article pleases both Tacgnol and End Cat =^.^=

    February 20, 2012 at 15:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Truth

    Only YOUNG cats spread the disease, which ONLY causes symptoms in infants and people with comprimised immune systems. This has been known for years, and to prevent spread to infants and fellow humans, all you have to do is wash your hands after cleaning the cat box, which only a moron wouldn't do. As for the bimbo who called cats, "rodents," you, like all of the other cat-haters on this board, are a moron. The sea otters are getting it from feral cats who crap on the beach. Feral cats are a major problem, just like non-native rabbits, frogs, boars, insects and snakes. Blame bad human pet owners, sloppy shipping companies, and poor decisions to deliberately introduce non-native species recklessly into foreign environments.

    February 20, 2012 at 15:52 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Not ONLY

      A friend of mine is blind as a result of ocular toxoplasmosis. It started when he was a teen. He has no other medical issues – immunity related or otherwise. Perfectly healthy 30 year old. The assumption is he contracted it in-utero, but who knows. He lived in Europe for a time.

      February 20, 2012 at 16:37 | Report abuse |
    • Sunflower

      My OB/GYN said that this is a distinct possibility. thus I was told to make my inside kitty an outside kitty as quickly as possible. NO LITTER BOX IN THE HOUSE. I didn't argue and was not going to take any chances with my unborn child.... You'd be a fool to do so for precisely the reason mentioned. Poor guy... Hate to hear that...

      February 20, 2012 at 17:49 | Report abuse |
    • get a clue

      Sunflower, you are an idiot. You can only contract Tox. gondii if (a) your cat has it. Your indoor cat can get tested and if it doesn't have it, it won't get it. (b) you can't "get it" if you've already got it. 25% of U.S. citizens already have it and the parasite is only dangerous if a woman contracts a NEW infection during pregnancy. (c) even if your indor cat mysteriously contracted a NEW case of Tox, for whicj it began shedding cysts, the only way you could get it (if you were uninfected) is if you don't wash your hands after handling the box or the cat. Dumping your (probably unaltered, unvaccinated) feline outside is heartless and irresponsible and ironically, more likely to lead to a new Tox infection. Your Ob/GYN needs to get an edumacation before spewing filth and fear to unsuspecting, illiterate people like you.

      February 20, 2012 at 20:14 | Report abuse |
    • dcn8v

      Thanks, getaclue. This is a common pregnancy myth. As long as you don't handle the litter with your bare hands, you'll be fine. Put on rubber gloves to scoop, if it makes you feel better, and wash your hands after you clean the litterbox like we all do anyway. If anything, keep the cat as an indoors-only cat, which will greatly reduce the risk of exposure to any diseases or outdoor dangers like speeding cars (and will also lengthen the cat's lifespan).

      Always so great to see a person ready to toss their beloved pet aside as soon as they're pregnant. To me that speaks volumes about the character of a person. Just wait until that baby is a teenager and gets hormonal- will you toss him or her out of the house at the first sign that they're not exactly what you think they should be? If you find that you're unable to treat the animal with decency, Sunflower, take it to a no-kill shelter so it has a chance of a happy life with someone else.

      February 21, 2012 at 07:31 | Report abuse |
  13. x5431n

    I'm CATatonic! This is a CATastrophe! What CATegory of a CATastrophe is this? Has this been CATtaloged? I bet this affect CATerpillars too! I wonder if it's safer in CATalina??

    February 20, 2012 at 16:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. kimjob

    What about indoor dogs dragging their behind on the carpeting,nice toilet paper!

    February 20, 2012 at 16:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. WC

    The longer that parasites and host live together, the more the host can tolerate the parasite–up the the extreme where symbiosis results. Cats themselves might be an example of this phenomenon. We have been living with cats, and thus toxoplasma for a while, so not to worry. However, it has been suggested that toxoplasma plays a role in human schizophrenia. (something the article failed to mention.)

    February 20, 2012 at 16:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. BlooRomeo

    As I child I had a cat or 2 as pets, as well as a dog. However as I got older I developed an allergy to cats. The two have totally different personalities, but dogs seem to be a safer bet when it comes to human health.

    February 20, 2012 at 16:49 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Rein

      There are 4. 7 million dog bite victims annually in US, and only 0.5 million cat bite victims, even though there are a lot more cats than dogs. Most cats will run away when they feel threatened by someone, while many dogs will try to bite.

      February 21, 2012 at 09:55 | Report abuse |
    • babybear

      I love animals. I grew up with dogs, rabbits, fish, birds and tortoises. Dogs are fun to play with, but I can't stand the smell.
      I had cat allergies for the longest time. But I adopted two kittens anyway, since my kids want to have pets. The first year was horrible. I had to get on Zyrtec for 2 years, because it made me cranky. So I stopped taking Zyrtec. I haven't taken any antihistamine since! That was 5 years ago. My allergies to cat was cured!!! Now I can snuggle up with them and even kiss their fur with no problem at all.

      February 21, 2012 at 12:31 | Report abuse |
  17. MashaSobaka

    I try to avoid consuming all kinds of poo. It's just a personal quirk, I guess...feel free to call me crazy.

    February 20, 2012 at 16:50 | Report abuse | Reply
    • ??

      Masha, that's just crazy. Poo is abundant and delicious. The poo of men is barely digested and thus full of nutrients. Post-pizza poo has 80% of the toppings intact from a college-age male and the urine tastes like beer. I indulge frequently.

      February 20, 2012 at 20:18 | Report abuse |
  18. John Harlen

    They've found that a parasitic organism that spends part of its life cycle in cats causes its host to engage in high-risk, even suicidal behavior. This is part of the organism's survival mechanism. It affects, e.g., rats (which become attracted to cats) and ants (which climb to the top of a blade of grass and lock on, to be ingested by sheep, etc). I wonder if this is related to the stranding of marine mammals mentioned in this article.

    February 20, 2012 at 17:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Ed

    This is good cause for Santa Cruz County Supervisor Stone to pick up and champion. It's time we got rid of all the feral cats in Santa Cruz County...they're killing off the sea otters, as well as many of the native birds and other small animals. Maybe the County of Santa Cruz can pass an ordinance requiring all the feral cats to register or something.

    February 20, 2012 at 17:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. made-from-monkees

    i remember hearing about the sea otters killing each other ... rotten little murderers

    and the birds are always stealing my french fries so screw 'em !

    i love kissing cats 🙂

    February 20, 2012 at 18:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Meep

    Humans treat oceans like a toilet and wonder why raw seafood could make them sick. Duh....As much as I love people, they are so dumb. Humans are responsible for putting it in the ocean, if indeed that is really the issue, not the cats. Along with all the other garbage floating around.

    February 20, 2012 at 18:59 | Report abuse | Reply
    • melvinslizard

      Really, now? It's all the human's fault? Do you really think Humans are the only species that pees and poops in the ocean? Where do the fish go potty? Ever seen a fish outhouse? When an animal does it's business on land, where do you think those nutrients and waste go? Grab your crayons and your helmet and go sit at the kiddie table.

      February 21, 2012 at 11:07 | Report abuse |
  22. RusTnuts

    A home remedy and natural, green solution for this issue in cats is mix in a little of the flowers from a tiger lily (any lily will do) in with it's food (the stamens work best). In about 24 to 48 hours the problem will be resolved. Seriously, give it a try!

    February 20, 2012 at 19:18 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Lorena

      Your wife commented earlier about mixing rat poison in with your cream of wheat, seriously. It's work wonders on the miserable men problem.

      February 20, 2012 at 19:43 | Report abuse |
    • urouttolunch

      No wonder your nuts are rusty

      February 20, 2012 at 21:59 | Report abuse |
    • LockandKey

      DO NOT TRY THIS.

      Why would you tell people to kill their cats. Not everyone knows that Lilly's are extremely harmful to cats.
      You are a sick human.

      February 21, 2012 at 14:03 | Report abuse |
  23. KnowsMore123

    THIS IS WHAT ARE TAX DOLLARS ARE GOING TO? WHAT A DISGRACE

    February 20, 2012 at 19:45 | Report abuse | Reply
    • disgrace

      No... what's really a disgrace is that tax dollars were spent trying to educate a moron who never learned how to turn off CAPS LOCK and who doesn't know the difference between the words "our" and "are." Disgraceful indeed!!

      February 20, 2012 at 22:26 | Report abuse |
  24. carolinelew

    As time goes on most all comments posted about any thing being discussed is stupid and childish. I think some people just don't have enough to do, so make dumb comments about interesting topics. There was a time when I found most comments education and interesting but not anymore. I seldom read such elementary comments anymore.

    February 20, 2012 at 20:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. JAG0419

    Dr. Gupta:
    I normally respect your opinion. But this time you're a little over the top.
    Are you suggesting child-bearing age women shouldn't be vets? Shouldn't treat animals in need?
    There are more germs in a kindergarten in the US than in the room in which my kitty does her business.
    BTW, kitty is extremely clean. On the other hand, my doggy, whom I equally love, does her business then frequently eats it.
    Pets can be gross. But people can be as well. Wash your hands hillbillies and nobody gets sick.

    February 20, 2012 at 21:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. urouttolunch

    And one more thing. Dr. Gupta. OLD NEWS. Not helpful. Get a grip. JAG0419 has a very valid point. Try hard to be a little more responsible next time. Your credibility is waning.

    February 20, 2012 at 22:10 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Meep

      Elizabeth Landau is the writer and she's not a Doctor. She just does the Chart blog, but yeah, most people think it's Dr. Gupta. He really should review what is put up because so many think it's him.

      February 20, 2012 at 22:36 | Report abuse |
    • urouttolunch

      @Meep, good point. Still unacceptable from CNN. though.

      February 20, 2012 at 23:35 | Report abuse |
  27. LinningBaby

    does the author really need to write an article about animal's feces being harmful? next thing this author is gonna write is pollution being harmful to humans or drinking water is good for humans

    February 20, 2012 at 22:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Mia

    It seems to me they're missing something. Yes, cat feces can reach the ocean through storm runoff - but surely a lot more of it does so in the form of flushable litter (which I believe started to be sold in the 1990s).

    February 20, 2012 at 22:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Jamie

    What's the big deal? I've had cats all my life. Just scoop the poop, don't touch it, properly dispose of it, and wash your hands afterwards. And you will NEVER get this whatever-the-hell-it-is! Ya gotta LOVE cats!!! Life would be so very dismal without a daily meow and a purr! =^..^=

    February 20, 2012 at 23:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. newbie

    I would like to know what actually happened to the people who had Type X. Particularly the transplant patient. Are they ok?

    February 20, 2012 at 23:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. newbie

    I personally love all animals and have several. I am saddened by the fact the blog devolved into name calling. We are never all going to agree on everything but can't we treat each other with kindness and respect their right to their own opinions?

    February 20, 2012 at 23:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. SoulCatcher

    Cat Scratch Fever, dun dun dah.
    Cat Scratch Fever, dun dun doh.

    February 20, 2012 at 23:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. sane cat lady

    Oy.. Just what cats need....More negative press.........

    February 21, 2012 at 00:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. Tholidor

    Hey Sanjay! Be careful what is published under your name... When you get old and run for President, someone will dredge this up and accuse you of being an "anti-felinist".......LOL

    February 21, 2012 at 07:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. Art

    Odd that they didn't mention the link between Toxoplasmosis and schizophrenia.

    February 21, 2012 at 07:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Mr.Myxlptlkx

    Just kill all the cats and this problem will go away by itself. I mean, everybody KNOWS that cats are inherently evil, try to smother newborn babies in the house they live in, etc., in addition to all the innocent mice they senselessly slaughter every day. The Ancient Egyptians despised cats, and I think they were on the right track...

    February 21, 2012 at 07:53 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Duh

      Everything about your comment is wrong. The ancient Egyptians LOVED cats. They often mummified them after they died and the cats were buried in the tombs with their deceased owners. Go back to school.

      February 21, 2012 at 09:40 | Report abuse |
    • Allycat

      Are you serious? Yea okay go out and kill some cats and see what will happen, i think the millions of cat owners and lovers would like that at all. Cats are very loved and special to many people. Humans are actually probably the nastiest living things on earth. Ughh.

      February 21, 2012 at 10:19 | Report abuse |
  37. glenda

    I have a relative, that is one of the nastiest people that ever lived. She is lazy and more useless than any animal, I've ever had. I know she's had animals die, because she's to lazy to get off her butt and feed them. I wouldn't let any of my animals around her, because I'd be afraid some of her filth would rub off on them.

    February 21, 2012 at 10:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. Leila

    I have had cats all my life. They have brought me so much joy and as long as you keep the litter box clean on a DAILY basis, sometimes twice a day, and you change the litter frequently AND bleach the litter box, you are fine. American society is SO paranoid. If you don't like pets, then don't have any. Very simple. If you do have pets, keep your environment clean. I don't think the article is meant to deter us from having our beloved pets. Just be CLEAN.

    February 21, 2012 at 10:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. Meow

    Maybe this is why most people who have multiple cats in their home are obese or generally unhealthy. Inflamation perhaps.

    February 21, 2012 at 10:38 | Report abuse | Reply
    • melvinslizard

      Ironic that, in fact, most CATS that live domestically are obese and lazy... My cat has long hair, maybe his hair is retaining water?

      February 21, 2012 at 11:10 | Report abuse |
  40. Leila

    WHAT???? Are you serious??? What an ignorant stereotype!!!

    February 21, 2012 at 10:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. Dana

    Toxoplasmosis is known for years. What's all th crying about? If you have a daughter, tell her to get tested before she decides for a baby or when she is in 1st trimester. Sea otters? Uhh, I don't even live anywhere near he coast. :\

    February 21, 2012 at 10:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Leila

    @Dana..if you lived here on the Central Coast (Monterey Bay) you would LOVE these otters. They are the cutest things. As for the correlation betweent cat feces and otters' poor health....well I don't know....I just know that Californians are VERY protective and paranoid regarding marine life here. I don't know how many cat owners flush the waste but certainly human waste ALSO is a threat and that sickens me even more.

    February 21, 2012 at 10:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. Myto Senseworth

    The only reason to bring a cat or dog into the house is to cook it for dinner.

    February 21, 2012 at 11:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. Myto Senseworth

    Cat guts make good strings for my vio....

    February 21, 2012 at 11:24 | Report abuse | Reply
    • David

      DIckwad....

      February 21, 2012 at 13:07 | Report abuse |
  45. Lea

    OMG, really? Funny, I'm a skinny person and I've had cats all my life. My hubby, daughter and son are skinny people too. If I've been infected by toxoplasmosis (and yes, when I was a kid the cats were outdoor/indoor), I've seen no indications it's been a problem. I just have hubby scoop the box while I'm pregnant. Jeez.

    February 21, 2012 at 11:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. UFB

    Old and very unhelpful news. Paranoid pregnant mothers will, by the thousands, dump their cats at the pound, many of whom (cats that is) will be euthanized. Simple good hygiene and having someone else clean the litter box virtually eliminates any risk here.

    February 21, 2012 at 11:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. randoid1234

    Looks like I'm going to have to stop eating cat crap.

    February 21, 2012 at 12:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. Lea

    This is a very irresponsible story for CNN to post and all it will do is scare the uninformed! Actually, it will scare the uninformed into ditching their cats on a street or in a shelter and that is NOT necessary! I know CNN is desperate for readers but to engage in scare tactics to the detriment of innocent animals is a DISGRACE!

    Cats can be safely owned by pregant women. They just need to wear gloves or wash their hands after handling the litter box. Haviing a child with a man over the age of 41 drastically increases your odds of having a child with autism – why isn't CNN talking about that? Maybe these younger women would think twice about procreating with older men?

    February 21, 2012 at 13:22 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Rachel

      Younger women don't want to give up their sugar daddies – even if they are old enough to be their fathers!

      February 21, 2012 at 13:26 | Report abuse |
  49. Tracy

    I have 9 rescues inside and feed a feral colony outside and when I got really sick I was tested and found negative for Toxoplasmosis. Turns out I picked up a crazy virus on a plane from a person! Stop scaring people for no reason!

    February 21, 2012 at 13:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. Dina

    We grew up with cats and dogs in the house. Many years ago, my sister had two miscarriages and after the first one, her doctors ordered different tests. Their conclusion was that she had the cats parasites. I love cats but I wouldn't have them in my apartment.

    February 21, 2012 at 13:46 | Report abuse | Reply
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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.