The Dangers of a Parasite Found Inside Your Cat. DAYTON -- It sounds like something out of a sci-fi movie.That's invading your body.But the truth is it's real."It's a parasite that can infect humans," said Ike Northern, Director of Infectious Disease at Compunet.This single-celled parasite is called "toxoplasma gondii."And according to the centers for disease control and prevention 60-million people in the u-s are already infected."Typically they don't have symptoms and they don't know that they've been infected," said Northern.Northern says the culprits are."Cats tend to be one of the main reservoirs," said Northern.The parasite lives inside your cat.It comes out in their feces."Any cat maybe shedding it at any time and they may not be ill," said Dr. Sven Anstandt, Veterinarian.Dr. Andstandt studied the parasite while in school."We can't be certain if your immune or not, that would be the big deal, especially if you're pregnant," said Dr. Anstandt.Both are familiar with the organism and its potential.In some cases of severe infection, toxoplasma gondii, can turn into toxoplasmosis."There are some articles that talk about this and they've done some studies and there seems to be some association but not really a correlation with schizophrenia so it's really hard to say whether it's really a cause of schizophrenia or not," said Northern.So who's most at risk for infection?Turns out, those of uswho are healthy are less likely to be infected.It's those who have a suppressed immune system that need to be careful."People like that have diseases like HIV, people who are taking an immuno-suprescent drug because they've have a transplant," said Northern."I love cats, I love everything cat themed," said Angela Burneka.Burneka has owned cats her whole life.Her latest furry friend is Sir George."I love their independence and I love their personalities," said Burneka.We told this cat lover about the parasite and the potential of infection."It's a little sensationalized probably but i mean it is kind of funny how cats, I feel like they get their way a lot and I wonder if that has something to do with it (laughs)" said Burneka.She doesn't plan to stop loving her kitty cat or believe her furry friend will infect her or her brain."It could be I guess if there's more cases that happen and it becomes kind of this phenomenon and it's taking over but I don't see it becoming an issue," said Burneka, "I think all cat lovers are safe."It's important to reiterate that only those with a suppressed immune system are at most risk for getting an infection from the parasite.Also, while there are several studies looking into the parasite and neurological diseases, at this point, there's no scientific proof that it causes brain disorders.
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