I have previously described concerns about the lack of validation of genetic tests to refute the pedigree registration status of purebred dogs.  As several courts have held, genetic testing is currently not dispositive of pedigree registration status.  See, e.g., Sandra Shines v. Furry Babies Stratford Square, Inc., No. 13-3592, slip op. at 9 (Ill. 18th Jud. Cir. Jan. 22, 2014) (finding DNA test results unreliable to support plaintiff’s claim that the Cocker spaniel in dispute was a mixed breed).

It looks like I am not the only veterinarian concerned about the injudicious use of genetic testing in animals.  As other veterinarians and scientists recently discussed in Nature’s “Pet genomics medicine runs wild:”

Genetic testing for dogs is big business.  It is too easy for companies to sell false hope, warn Lisa Moses, Steve Niemi and Elinor Karlsson.  They call for regulation.

These authors identify the following deficiencies in animal genetic testing:

  1. Weak science
  2. Lack of validation
  3. Imprecise results or interpretation
  4. Conflicts of interest

They propose the following logical five-step plan to help insure that genetic testing provides animal owners with validated, science-based and valuable information about their pets.

  1. Establish standards
  2. Create guidelines
  3. Share data
  4. Recruit tools and expertise
  5. Education counsellors

The International Partnership for Dogs (IPFD) a partnership of national kennel clubs, industry and non-profit organizations, whose mission (described here) “is to facilitate collaboration and sharing of resources to enhance the health, well-being and welfare of pedigreed dogs and all dogs worldwide” congratulated the authors on their commentary and noted that to their own initiative – the Harmonization of Genetic Testing for Dogs (HGTD) – was engaged in the development of oversight of these tools and emphasized “the phenomenal potential for genetic testing to support health, well-being and welfare in dogs, as well as aspects of human-dog interactions.”

The goal of HGTD is reportedly to improve standardization of, and access to, robust genetic  testing to support health improvements and a sustainable future for healthy dogs.

The use of genetic tests to assist animal breeders in selecting for desired traits is nothing new.

For example, in 2006, USDA’s Agricultural Research Service was studying the use of genetic tests for “beefing” up cattle breeding programs, as reported on USDA’s website.  Even before that, as early as 1998, geneticists, including Mark F. Allan was researching the “genetic regions linking to the twinning trait” in cattle.

Marker-assisted selection will allow breeders to increase the speed and accuracy of traditional assessment methods, but its advantages extend beyond the seedstock industry. Commercial cattle producers would be able to purchase bulls with superior genetics. The desirable characteristics in the livestock would ultimately translate into better products for consumers.

Genetic testing, when used judiciously, has helped animal and human health officials understand the spread of pathogens, such as avian influenza, so that measures can be implemented to prevent or mitigate such spread.

Undoubtedly, the use of genetic testing will continue to advance, and provide benefits to both animals and humans invested in their care.

 

A proposed bill “authorizing the provision of health care services through telemedicine and telehealth” (S291) is now on the desk of the Governor of New Jersey for action.

The bill, which authorizes “the provision of health care services through telemedicine and telehealth” governs such services provided by veterinarians, as “[h]ealth care providers,” fails to acknowledge or provide for issues specific to veterinary medicine.  For example, several provisions require the “patient’s request” before providing health care services through telemedicine.  Clearly animal patients cannot request treatment or provide consent.  The bill fails to distinguish a “patient” from a “client” or “animal owner” or to permit such services at the request of a client/owner for the patient which is the fundamental way in which services are provided in a veterinary practice.

The bill also requires “[e]ach telemedicine or telehealth organization operating in the State . . . [to] annually register with the Department of Health” and submit an annual report providing

the total number of telemedicine and telehealth encounters conducted; the type of technology utilized to provide services using telemedicine or telehealth; the category of medical condition for which services were sought; the geographic region of the patient and the provider; the patient’s age and sex; and any prescriptions issued.  The commissioner may require the reporting of any additional information as the commissioner deems necessary and appropriate, subject to all applicable State and federal laws, rules, and regulations for recordkeeping and privacy.

Such information would be publicly accessible pursuant to the State’s Open Public Records Act, which may be of concern to biomedical research entities since reported information can reveal confidential information and trade secrets.

That said, the evolution of veterinary medicine necessarily involves telemedicine.  The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA ) acknowledges as much in its published “Final Report on Telemedicine” dated Jan. 13, 2017, drafted by the association’s Practice Advisory Panel (AP).

The AP concluded, in part:

Telemedicine is a tool of practice, not a separate discipline within the profession. The AP recognizes that using telemedicine in the delivery of veterinary medical services offers benefits to animal owners, animal patents, and the profession itself. The appropriate application of telemedicine can enhance animal care by facilitating communication, diagnostics, treatments, client education, scheduling, and other tasks within the veterinary profession. Practitioners must apply existing laws and regulations to the provision of telemedicine services in the state they have license to practice veterinary medicine.

The AP recommends that telemedicine shall only be conducted within an existing VCPR [veterinarian client patient relationship], with the exception for advice given in an emergency care situation until that patient(s) can be seen by or transported to a veterinarian. Without a VCPR, telemedicine should not be practiced, and any advice given should remain in general terms, not specific to an individual animal, diagnosis, treatment, etc.

AVMA’s Greg Cima outlined the issues involving telemedicine in “Defining relationships: AVMA considering what medical services can be provided at a distance” posted on May 10, 2017.

At issue is the line between advice and the practice of veterinary medicine, the very issue-in-suit in Hines v. Alldredge, 783 F.3d 197 (5th Cir. 2015) where “a Texas veterinarian . . . was found to have violated the state practice act by performing veterinary medicine without a physical examination or premises visit” when he provided advice via the internet.”

With the decreasing numbers of food animal practitioners across the country, issues of telemedicine will be increasingly important to ensure that livestock receive appropriate and timely medical care.

Companion and other animals will also benefit from the proper use of telemedicine by veterinarians, after the veterinarian-client-patient relationship has been established.

As recently reported by healthypaws® Pet Insurance & Foundation in Cost of Pet Care: 2016, “[v]eterinarians have a greater ability to treat and save sick animals now more than ever before.”

The AVMA offers guidance to both pet owners and veterinarians “recogniz[ing] that viable pet health insurance programs will be important to the future of the veterinary profession’s ability to continue to provide high quality and up-to-date veterinary service.”  The AVMA, while not endorsing any specific pet insurer, includes a list in its guidance to pet owners.  See Do You Need Pet Insurance?

The North American Pet Health Insurance Association, “a freestanding body comprised of reputable and experienced pet health insurance companies and pet health professionals” describes it purpose in North America is to:

  • Collectively drive growth for, and acceptance of, the pet health insurance (PHI) industry, its members, and its products through public and industry awareness initiatives, shared resources, and industry transparency
  • Be a neutral voice for the reporting and dissemination of information about the benefits of PHI, and the industry, while promoting competitive choice for consumers about how pet insurance functions as well as the spectrum of coverage options available
  • Explore and develop partnerships with other insurance, industry, animal welfare organizations and professionals who share complimentary aspects of our work and mandate
  • Provide support to individual NAPHIA member companies in educating, marketing, and disseminating information on the industry across a wide variety of audiences and markets.  See About NAPHIA.

NAPHIA currently has 13 “industry members,” and describes its members as “collectively represent[ing] more than 20 different pet insurance brands currently marketed across the US and Canada.”  See The Pet Health Insurance Industry in North America.

NAPHIA reports that ‘over 1.6 million of the 179 million pets in North America are insured by NAPHIA members.’

Many businesses have begun offering pet insurance to their employees as part of their benefit packages.  Like any other insurance plan, a careful review of the policy is essential before deciding to sign on.

Plans may include the following options: (1) Accident only plans; (2) Accident & Illness; (3) Insurance with Embedded Wellness; and (4) Endorsements.  According to NAPHIA 97% of insured pets in the U.S. “were covered either through an Accident & Illness plan or an Insurance with Embedded Wellness plan.”  See State of the Industry Report 2016 Highlights.

Since diagnostic and treatment options for pets will continue to expand, it may make sense to obtain coverage to ensure that owners are best equipped financially to provide care needed, as determined in consultation with your veterinarian-of-choice.

Originally published by Trina Wood on May 26, 2016 in Human & Animal Health

Republished with permission from Trina Wood/UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine

This article discusses new research that will help veterinarians and dog owners identify the best time to sterilize dogs while minimizing the harm resulting from the premature removal of reproductive organs that are important for normal growth.

Renowned for their intelligence, obedience and loyalty, German shepherd dogs are often the preferred breed for police and military work, as well as popular service dogs and family pets. But as most handlers, breeders and veterinarians are aware, joint disorders are a big concern in these animals.

A new study in the journal Veterinary Medicine and Science finds that neutering or spaying these dogs before 1 year of age triples the risk of one or more joint disorders — particularly for cranial cruciate ligament, or CCL, tears.

“Debilitating joint disorders of hip dysplasia, CCL and elbow dysplasia can shorten a dog’s useful working life and impact its role as a family member,” said lead investigator Benjamin Hart, a distinguished professor emeritus in the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. “Simply delaying the spay/neuter until the dog is a year old can markedly reduce the chance of a joint disorder.”

Dog owners in the United States typically choose to spay or neuter their dogs prior to 6 months of age, in large part to prevent pet overpopulation or hoping to avoid unwanted behaviors. In Europe, however, neutering is generally avoided by owners and trainers and not promoted by animal health authorities, Hart said.

During the past decade, some studies have indicated that spaying or neutering can have several adverse health effects for certain dog breeds. For example, a 2014 study published in PLoS ONE and also led by Hart, examined the health records of over 1,000 golden retrievers and found a surprising fourfold increase in one or more joint disorders associated with spay or neuter before 1 year of age. In the same paper, joint disorders in Labrador retrievers were found to be increased by just twofold in dogs spayed or neutered in the first year.

For this current study, researchers examined veterinary hospital records over a 14.5-year period on 1,170 intact and neutered (including spayed) German shepherd dogs for joint disorders and cancers previously associated with neutering. The diseases were followed through 8 years of age, with the exception of mammary cancer in females, which was followed through 11 years.

The dogs were classified as intact (not neutered), neutered before 6 months, neutered between 6 to 11 months, or neutered between 12 to 23 months and 2 to 8 years. Joint disorders and cancers are of particular interest because neutering removes male and female sex hormones that play key roles in important body processes such as closure of bone growth plates.

  • Seven percent of intact males were diagnosed with one or more joint disorders, compared to 21 percent of males neutered prior to a year of age.
  • In intact females, 5 percent were diagnosed with one or more joint disorders, while in females neutered prior to 1 year of age this measure was significantly increased to 16 percent.
  • Mammary cancer was diagnosed in 4 percent of intact females compared with less than 1 percent in females neutered before 1 year of age. (The occurrence of the other cancers followed through 8 years of age was not higher in the neutered than in the intact dogs.)
  • Urinary incontinence, not diagnosed in intact females, was diagnosed in 7 percent of females neutered before 1 year of age.

“In addition to dogs suffering pain from joint disorders, the condition may also disqualify the dog as a working partner in military and police work,” Hart said. “We hope these findings provide evidence-based guidelines for deciding the right age to neuter a puppy to reduce the risk of one or more joint disorders.”

Other researchers on this UC Davis study were: Lynette Hart and Abigail Thigpen, School of Veterinary Medicine; and Neil Willits, Department of Statistics.

The research was supported by the Canine Health Foundation and donors to the Center for Companion Animal Health.

The practice of veterinary medicine remains a noble profession but it is increasingly out of reach for many aspiring veterinarians.

One of the best sources of information for students interested in a veterinary career is the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC), “a non-profit membership organization working to protect and improve the health and welfare of animals, people and the environment by advancing academic veterinary medicine.”

The history and mission of this association is described on its website, in part as follows:

The Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC) was formed in 1966 by the deans of the 18 U.S. and three Canadian veterinary colleges. During the 1970s, AAVMC’s membership expanded to include the departments of veterinary science in colleges of agriculture. Angell Animal Medical Center was granted membership in the mid-1980s, and the category of membership expanded to “other veterinary medical education organizations” in 2001. Departments of comparative medicine were added in the mid-1990s. International AVMA-accredited schools were first admitted in the 1990s as non-voting affiliate members; they became voting members in 2007. Non-AVMA-accredited schools were granted non-voting affiliate status in 2007 as well.

Today, the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges coordinates the affairs of all 30 U.S. veterinary medical colleges, all five Canadian colleges of veterinary medicine, eight U.S. departments of veterinary science, eight U.S. departments of comparative medicine, eight international veterinary schools, three veterinary medical education organizations, and four affiliate international veterinary schools. The association represents more than 4,000 faculty, 5,000 staff, 10,000 veterinary students, and 3,000 graduate students at these institutions.

A major concern to veterinarians, veterinary associations, and educators is the continued escalating cost of a veterinary medical education.

According to Dr. John Baker, dean of the MSU College of Veterinary Medicine, “the ratio of student debt to graduate starting salary is the biggest challenge facing veterinary medicine, and is increasing to a level where it may impact the number and quality of students applying for a veterinary medical education.”

The AAVMC, American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), and Michigan State University (MSU) College of Veterinary Medicine, convened to discuss this issue in Spring 2016, and, as reported in a press release, recommendations from these thought leaders included, in part:

To explore and implement a five-to-six-year program for students to earn a D.V.M. degree; by working with local undergraduate institutions on refining the curricula, this would enable students to have two extra years to earn income;

To encourage creation of national partnerships and campaigns to raise funds for scholarships;

To work with the AAVMC and AVMA in advocating for legislation to help reduce student debt; and

To document actual educational costs and charge accordingly, which would, among other things, create greater transparency in revenue lines for research and education.

. . .

To reconsider compensation packages for new graduates/associate veterinarians;

. . .

To create a national campaign around student debt; and

To include student debt as a regular follow-up agenda item at annual events such as the AVMA Economic Summit, AVMA Convention and AAVMC Conference; the purpose of this would be to monitor progress on efforts to reduce the DIR and to hold each other accountable.

. . .

To personally engage deans, their peers and future students in conversations about financial literacy and student debt; and

To inform pre-veterinary students about the current student debt issue and discuss what is being done to address it.

In New Jersey legislators have been trying to revamp a pre-existing program, that has since lost its funding, to assist veterinary students who are New Jersey residents by establishing contracts “with out-of-state schools of veterinary medicine for the acceptance of 30 New Jersey students for the 2017-2018 academic year and to increase the number of contractual agreements for an additional 30 students in each of the next three subsequent academic years, until the total number of contractual agreements supports the education of 120 students in the 2020-2021 academic year.”

The veterinary medicine education program, originally established through statute in 1971, provides contracting schools with “a capitation subsidy toward the cost of education in return for reserved spaces for New Jersey students.”

 Between the FY 2007 and FY 2011 fiscal years, funding for the program was reduced and then eliminated. This lack of State support has restricted the ability of New Jersey students to study veterinary medicine, which is significant in light of the fact that such programs are not available within the State.

Previously, students attending veterinary school as part of a New Jersey-secured seat were not obligated to return to New Jersey to practice.  The current bill, S 2251, would:

establish a service requirement for students whose education is supported through these contractual agreements. Upon completion of a student’s veterinary medical education, the student will be required to work in a veterinary medicine position in New Jersey for a period of 18 months for each year of contract funding provided for the student. If this service requirement is not met in whole or in part, then the student is obligated to refund to HESAA the portion of the funding that has not been redeemed through service in the State.

Pets are increasingly important in this and other developed countries.

Many pet owners are unaware of the diseases and parasites their pets may harbor that can cause illness to humans.  This is one reason that proper veterinary care through routine visits to a veterinarian is so important.

The transmission of diseases between people and pets is the basis for the “One Health Initiative” whose goal is to “unite human and veterinary medicine.”  Check out their website, where you will find information about the history of this organization and the important work they are undertaking to share information about the new or re-emerging diseases, 70% of which are zoonotic (spread between animals and humans) or vector-borne (transmitted by vectors, including insects).

As recently discussed here, cats, like other animals can harbor and transmit a number of diseases and parasites to humans.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the leading public health institute in the United States, contains a plethora of scientific information and data on its website, including “[t]he most common diseases associated with cats that can cause human illness.”

The description of these diseases and parasitic disorders is republished below to demonstrate why it is so important for cat owners to take of their pets, which, in turn will help keep all family members healthy.

Campylobacteriosis

Campylobacter is a type of bacteria that spreads through contaminated food (meat and eggs), water, or contact with stool (poop) of infected animals. Cats infected with Campylobacter may show no signs of illness at all or may have diarrhea.

Most people who become sick with campylobacteriosis will have diarrhea, cramping, abdominal pain, and fever within 2-5 days after exposure to the organism. Campylobacter bacteria can cause serious life-threatening infections in infants, older persons, and those with weakened immune systems.

Cat-scratch Disease (Bartonella henselae)

Cat-scratch disease is a bacterial disease that people may get after being bitten or scratched by a cat. About 40% of cats carry the bacteria at some time in their lives, although kittens younger than 1 year of age are more likely to have it. Most cats with this infection show no signs of illness.

People who are bitten or scratched by an affected cat may develop a mild infection 3-14 days later at the site of the wound. The infection may worsen and cause fever, headache, poor appetite, and exhaustion. Later, the person’s lymph nodes closest to the original scratch or bite can become swollen, tender, or painful. Seek medical attention if you believe you have cat-scratch disease.

Cheyletiellosis

Cheyletiellosis is a mild, short-term skin inflammation caused by mites that feed on skin cells. Cheyletiella is spread through contact with infested animals. Pets such as rabbits and adult cats may not show signs of infestation. However, affected kittens may have patches of scaly skin with dandruff.

The most common symptoms of cheyletiellosis in people include itching, redness, and raised bumps on areas of the skin that touched the infested animal.  Cheyletiellosis in people generally resolves on its own.

Cryptosporidiosis

Cryptosporidiosis is a parasitic disease that is transmitted through contaminated food or water from an infected person or animal. Cryptosporidiosis in cats is rare, but they can carry the germ without showing any signs of illness.

Cryptosporidiosis can cause profuse, watery diarrhea with cramping, abdominal pain, and nausea in people and many types of animals. Illness in people is usually self-limiting and lasts only 2-4 days, but can become severe in people with weakened immune systems.

Echinococcosis

Echinococcosis is a disease caused by eating or drinking food and water contaminated with tapeworm eggs or through contact with an infected animal. Cats become infected by eating tissue of an infected animal. Cats rarely show any signs of disease, but can be infected with a large number of adult tapeworms.

Although Echinococcus invades many different organs of the body, most people who are infected with the disease will not have any signs of illness for years. Symptoms start when the slow-growing cysts become large enough to press on the organs they have invaded. The tapeworms grow slowly in several different organs of the body, most commonly the liver and lungs.

Giardia

Giardia is a parasite that causes diarrhea in animals and people. Giardia is transmitted to animals and people through food or water contaminated with stool.

Symptoms for animals and people include diarrhea, greasy stools, and dehydration. People can also have abdominal cramps, nausea, and vomiting. Symptoms can last 1-2 weeks.

Hookworms

Cat hookworms are tiny worms that can spread through contact with contaminated soil or sand. Cats can also become infected with hookworms through accidentally ingesting the parasite from the environment or through their mother’s milk or colostrum. Hookworm infections can cause anemia and weight loss in kittens. Severe infections can be fatal.

People become infected with cat hookworms while walking barefoot, kneeling, or sitting on ground contaminated with stool (poop) of infected animals. Hookworm larvae enter the top layers of skin and cause an itchy reaction called cutaneous larva migrans. A red squiggly line may appear where the larvae have migrated under the skin. Symptoms usually resolve without medical treatment in 4-6 weeks.

MRSA (Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus)

Staphylococcus aureus is a common type of bacteria that is normally found on the skin of people and animals. Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is the same bacterium that has become resistant to some antibiotics. Cats and other animals often can carry MRSA without being sick, but MRSA can cause a variety of infections, including of the skin, respiratory tract, and urinary tract.

MRSA can be transmitted back and forth between people and animals through direct contact. In people, MRSA most often causes skin infections that can range from mild to severe. If left untreated, MRSA can spread to the bloodstream or lungs and cause life-threatening infections.

Pasteurellosis

Pasteurellosis is a bacterial disease associated with animal bites and scratches. Pasteurella is a normal bacterium that lives in the mouths of healthy cats. The bacteria do not typically make cats sick; however, cats can develop abscesses or skin infections in places where they were scratched or bitten by another animal.

In people, pasteurellosis causes painful wound and skin infections. In severe cases, it can cause widespread infection and might even affect the nervous system.

Plague (Yersinia pestis)

Plague is a bacterial disease in animals and people that can lead to serious illness or death if left untreated. Cats are highly susceptible to plague and their symptoms are similar to those experienced by humans. Cats that hunt wild rodents and rabbits in the western, particularly the southwestern, United States are at greatest risk of becoming infected.

People most often become infected through flea bites or from contact with body fluids of infected animals. Bubonic plague is the most common form; symptoms include sudden onset of high fever, chills, headache, malaise, and swollen lymph nodes. The other two forms of plague, septicemic and pneumonic, cause more severe disease. Cats infected with plague can infect people through bites, scratches, coughs, or sneezes.

Rabies

Rabies, a fatal neurologic disease in animals and people, is caused by a virus. Animals and people are most commonly infected through bites from rabid animals. Infected cats may have a variety of signs, but most often have sudden behavioral changes and progressive paralysis. Cats may also appear restless, pant, and attack other animals, people, or objects. Animals with rabies typically die within a few days of appearing sick. Owners should vaccinate their cats against this deadly disease.

The first symptoms in people can start days to months after exposure; they include generalized weakness, fever, and headache. Within a few days, symptoms progress to confusion, anxiety, and behavioral changes. If you have been bitten by a cat or other animal and feel that there is a risk for rabies, contact your health care provider right away.  Once symptoms appear, it is almost always too late for treatment.

Ringworm (Microsporum canis)

Ringworm is a condition caused by a fungus that can infect skin, hair, and nails of both people and animals. Ringworm is passed from animals to people through direct contact with an infected animal’s skin or hair. Cats infected with ringworm typically have small areas of hair loss around their ears, face, or legs, with scaly or crusty skin. But some cats carrying ringworm have no signs of infection at all. Kittens are most commonly affected.

Ringworm infections in people can appear on almost any area of the body. These infections are usually itchy. Redness, scaling, cracking of the skin, or a ring-shaped rash may occur. If the infection involves the scalp or beard, hair may fall out. Infected nails become discolored or thick and may possibly crumble.

Roundworm (Toxocara spp.)

Toxocara roundworms cause a parasitic disease known as toxocariasis. Cats and people can become infected by swallowing roundworm eggs from the environment. Cats can also become infected as young kittens. Larval worms can come through the milk of a mother cat, passing the infection on to her kittens. Infected kittens usually do not seem sick. Those that do may have mild diarrhea, dehydration, rough coat, and a pot-bellied appearance.

In people, children are most often affected with roundworm. There are two forms of the disease in people: ocular larva migrans and visceral larva migrans. Ocular larva migrans happens when the larvae invade the retina (tissue in the eye) and cause inflammation, scarring, and possibly blindness. Visceral larva migrans occurs when the larvae invade parts of the body, such as the liver, lung, or central nervous system.

 

Salmonellosis (Salmonella spp.)

Salmonella spreads to people through contaminated food (eggs and meat) or contact with stool of certain animals, including cats. Cats can get salmonellosis through eating infected birds. While it usually does not make the cats sick, Salmonella infection can cause serious illness when it is passed to people.

People infected with Salmonella bacteria may have diarrhea, vomiting, fever, or abdominal cramps. Infants, elderly persons, and those with weakened immune systems are more likely than others to develop severe illness.

Sporotrichosis

Sporotrichosis is a fungal disease that can affect both animals and people. It is usually acquired from the environment through a cut or scrape in the skin but can be acquired from contact with animals as well. Infection with sporotrichosis in cats can range from no signs of illness to very serious disease. Signs often begin with small draining wounds that become raised lumps with the surface eroded away. The disease can worsen.

Three forms of sporotrichosis can infect people.

  • The first form is the cutaneous or skin form, which can progress from small raised areas on the skin to infection invading the lymph nodes and forming nodules that eventually ulcerate.

  • The second is the disseminated form, which occurs when the infection affects the internal organs and bones.

  • In the third form, the pulmonary form, a person acquires the infection through inhalation the fungus into the lungs, which often leads to chronic disease similar to tuberculosis.

Toxoplasmosis

Most healthy people who become infected with Toxoplasma show no signs or symptoms. However, pregnant women and people who have weakened immune systems may be at risk for serious health complications.

  • Toxoplasmosis is a parasitic disease that can spread to people and animals through contaminated soil, water, or meat, and contact with stool from an infected cat. Cats are the main source of infection to other animals but rarely appear sick.

  • The latter two forms are potentially fatal.