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Toxoplasmosis: BVA says risk from cats should not be overplayed

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THE BVA sought to reassure cat owners last week following what it called ‘alarmist’ headlines linking contact with cats to schizophrenia as a result of the risks posed by the protozoan parasite Toxoplasma gondii.

A report in The Independent newspaper on September 4, suggested ‘New research shows 350,000 Britons a year are being infected with pet-borne parasite linked with schizophrenia and increased suicide risk’. However, the BVA pointed out, the article also highlighted that there are other sources of infection, including eating undercooked meat and vegetables that had not been washed properly, as well as contact with cats. ‘It is not known which the greater source of infection is, but anecdotal advice suggests that meat is likely to be more important than contact with cats,’ the BVA said. It added that, while the parasite posed a greater risk to pregnant women and immunocompromised individuals, ‘as with all infections, common sense and good personal hygiene reduces the risk significantly and there is no reason that families with, or those intending to have, children shouldn't have pet cats’.

Harvey Locke, the BVA's past-president, commented: ‘While the facts are true, the headlines in this story have been quite alarmist and we are very keen to reassure cat owners that the risks can be managed with good basic hygiene and …

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