What is roundworm? Is it the same as toxoplasmosis?

Is roundworm the same as toxoplasmosis and how does this effect babies and pregnant women?

  • Vetinfo

    By: Kara McCarty El Segundo, CA

    Replied on 04/19/2011

    They are two different things. A roundworm is a parasitic intestinal worm whereas toxoplasmosis is a protozoa. Neither of them are gotten by casual contact with your pets, such as petting. Roundworms can infect cats and dogs and if people accidentally consume their eggs the worms can travel throughout the body and can encyst in the eye, brain, muscle, lungs or spinal cord and create severe problems. Children especially are at risk because of poor hygiene, their tendency to put their hands and toys in their mouths and immature immune systems. You can avoid exposure by picking up stool immediately after your pet defecates and not allowing pregnant women to pick up stool or wearing gloves if she does so. Toxoplasmosis is a protozoal disease of cats. Women are more likely to get infected by consuming undercooked meat or gardening and accidentally ingesting cysts from the soil than from their pet cat. You may have your cat tested before you become pregnant, if he or she tests positive for cysts on a stool sample he or she can be treated and someone else should clean the litter box. If he or she has no cysts on stool check and a positive antibody titer on a blood test it's likely your cat was previously exposed,has cleared the infection and is not passing infective cysts. It is still recommended a pregnant women wears gloves or has someone else change the litter box. Cysts take 2 to 3 days to become infective after they are passed in stool so if the litter box is cleaned daily chances of infection are even less. The infective cysts are are very harmful to the human fetus in the womb so every precaution should be taken. Enjoy your pets, chances of infection are decreased by following your veterinarian's deworming guidelines and practicing good hygiene. Kara, DVM

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