Toxoplasmosis is an infection caused by a parasite known as Toxoplasma gondii (T. gondii). This single-celled organism is commonly found throughout the world and tends to infect birds and mammals especially cats. This parasite is able to affect rodents and mice behaviour by making them reckless and attracted to the scent of cat's urine which makes them more susceptible to being caught and eaten. This effect is advantageous to the parasite, which will be able to sexually reproduce if its host is eaten by a cat. The infection is highly precise, as it does not affect a rodent's other fears such as the fear of open spaces or of unfamiliar smelling food.
The cat is the preferred host of toxoplasmosis but they can exist and asexually multiply indefinitely within the bodies of other mammals including humans. Humans become infected with the toxoplasmosis parasite through contact with infected animal faeces.
The parasite is found in cat's faeces more often than not and especially if they have caught and eaten rodents, mice or birds. Protective gloves must be worn when cleaning cat litter trays or gardening in soil where cats may have defecated.
Pregnant women especially must avoid touching cat litter trays or contaminated soil, water or sand as this parasite can be transmitted to the unborn foetus and cause major defects including neurological disorders, blindness and deafness and in rare cases death and still birth.
Another way of catching this infection is touching or eating raw or undercooked lamb, pork, venison or kangaroo meat. The parasites can be stored in small pockets (oocysts) in the muscle tissue of these meats. Cooking well will kill the parasites.
Drinking contaminated unpasteurised milk can also cause infection with toxoplasmosis parasites.
Vegetables grown in contaminated soil can carrying the parasite and be ingested by humans. Vegetables should be washed thoroughly to remove any soil particles before consumption.
It can also get into the body from breathing in contaminated dust.
Up to 50% of the human population is infected with toxoplasmosis but most show no signs or symptoms until the immune system is lowered. Hispanic and dark skinned people are more prone to infection by toxoplasmosis than fair skinned individuals.
TOXOPLASMOSIS IN HUMANS
The only evidence of infection is detection of antibodies in the blood against the toxoplasmosis parasite. However, in HIV/AIDS patients who are not producing antibodies this test is unreliable. The risk of toxoplasmosis infection is highest when the CD4 cell (T-cell) counts are below 100.
The parasite forms egg-like, thick walled protective structures called oocysts which cannot be penetrated by conventional medicines and will remain in the human body for life. These parasites must be ingested by mouth so are not usually transferred from person to person. They can survive in water, soil or sand in wet or very dry conditions for around 18 months. Young children who play in sandpits and gardens may be at risk if they come into contact with infected cat faeces.
It is estimated that a very large proportion of the human population has contracted toxoplasmosis in their lifetimes but are show no symptoms as the immune system keeps the parasites in check within the oocysts. Under normal circumstances, the immune system will easily destroy any parasites that escape these oocysts, but a person with lowered immunity such as organ transplant patients, malnourished people, those undergoing chemotherapy and those suffering with HIV/AIDS, may not be able to fend off an attack. The parasites can greatly increase in number then travel and infect other parts of the body such as the eye, brain, heart and lungs and cause a variety of serious illnesses.
Studies have also shown behavioural changes in humans infected by toxoplasmosis, including slower reaction times and a six fold increased risk of traffic accidents, irritability, depression, self harm and suicidal tendencies as well as links to schizophrenia including hallucinations and reckless behaviour. It is thought that toxoplasmosis directly affects the production of mood-regulating neurotransmitters and it triggers inflammation, which in turn might change the chemical balance in the brain. This is probably because, as with the mouse or rat that becomes reckless and attracted to cat's urine (so that is will be easily caught and eaten by the cat) the parasite may influence the human in the same way so it will become easy prey to other predators in order for the parasite to complete its life cycle.
TOXOPLASMA GONDII LIFE CYCLE
Toxoplasma has a complicated life cycle and is an organism capable of infecting many mammals and birds, but only in the cat is the full life cycle of the parasite able to be completed. Initially the cat may get infected from capturing and eating an infected mouse or bird. The meat of the infected animal has pockets of a special form of Toxoplasma called bradyzoites, which are released from the meat into the cat’s small intestine soon after ingestion. The parasite grows and multiplies within the cells lining the cat’s intestine. This phase of the life cycle is called the intestinal phase, and eventually results in the formation of oocysts. These are released by large numbers into the cat’s faeces but are not infectious at first. After a day or so in the environment they mature or sporulate into infectious oocysts, which then are not only resistant to chemicals and drying, but also can infect whatever mammal happens to eat them. They can persist in the environment for months and be carried about by rain, wind, earthworms, and insects (another good reason for routine worming!) They may eventually end up on produce or on pastures where different grazing animals may ingest them as they graze. They might also get into irrigation water to be used to water produce which may be for human consumption.
The other life cycle phase is the extra-intestinal, as it involves the parasite leaving the intestine (as the motile form called tachyzoites) and entering other cells within different organs in the body. The parasite forms a special cyst called the zoitocyst within the animal’s muscle, brain, lymph node or other tissue. Within these cysts the bradyzoites can persist for many years, often without harming the host, as long as the host has a healthy immune system. It is also this extra-intestinal phase that is so harmful to the human foetus, as the motile form of the parasite may cross the placenta to infect the foetus. This may result in spontaneous abortion or either a stillborn or physically and/or mentally handicapped child.
The cat may have either of these life phases present or both, shedding oocysts while also having zoitocysts within its tissues. All other infected animals (including humans) only have the extra-intestinal phase present.
The disease operates in two stages, a proliferative stage and a latent stage. During the proliferative stage the infection can be treated, although there are many side affect problems with available medicines. Then it progresses to a latent stage, where the oocysts form that hold the parasites in a less active state. These oocysts are untreatable as scientists can’t get medication inside the cyst. The oocysts eventually rupture and release proliferating parasites, which can cause a recurrence of the illness if the immune system is weakened and in those with eye disease. Such recurrences can cause severe damage to the eye and nervous system.
TOXOPLASMOSIS SYMPTOMS AND SIGNS
Generally feeling unwell.
Inflammation of the brain (encephalitis).
Inflammation of the eye, for example, macular oedema on the retina (at the back of the eye).
Inflammation of the heart muscle.
Inflammation of the lungs.
Muscle aches and pains.
Swollen lymph glands, especially around the neck.
Tiredness and disturbed sleep patterns.
EFFECTS OF TOXOPLASMOSIS ON UNBORN BABIES
If a woman contracts toxoplasmosis for the first time while pregnant, the parasites may affect the baby through the placenta. Effects of toxoplasmosis on unborn babies can include:
Abnormal head size.
Cerebral calcification (hardening of brain tissue).
Foetal death (in rare cases).
Low birth weight.
Mental retardation and learning difficulties.
Nervous system damage.
Retinal eye problems and blindness.
Water on the brain (hydrocephalus) or brain damage.
TOXOPLASMOSIS PREVENTION AND PRECAUTIONS
Avoid all cured meat products.
Avoid contact with cats altogether.
Avoid handling of any animals or birds.
Change cat litter trays daily wearing rubber gloves and wash hands thoroughly afterwards or ask someone else to do it nd avoid breathing in cat litter dust.
Cook ALL meat thoroughly until the juices run clear.
Do not eat rare or medium-rare meat dishes.
Freezing can kill the oocysts of toxoplasmosis.
Immediately wash cutting boards, knives and any other implements that have come into contact with raw meat.
Wash vegetables to remove any traces of soil.
Wash hands after handling raw meat.
Wash hands thoroughly before eating.
Wear gloves and eye protection while gardening. Pulling up weeds can flick contaminated soil into the eyes.
CONVENTIONAL DRUG TREATMENT FOR TOXOPLASMOSIS
The toxoplasma gondii parasites need vitamin B to live. Pyrimethamine stops toxoplasma from getting vitamin B. Sulfadiazine prevents the parasites from using it. The normal dosage of these drugs is 50 to 75 mg of pyrimethamine with 2 to 4 grams per day of sulfadiazine.
These drugs both interfere with vitamin B and can cause anaemia. People with toxoplasmosis usually take leucovorin, a form of vitamin B9 (folic acid) to prevent anaemia.
This combination of drugs is very effective against toxoplasmosis. Over 80% of people show improvement within 2 to 3 weeks but it usually returns after the first episode if the immune system is not boosted enough to produce antibodies against it.
NATURE CURES REMEDIES FOR TOXOPLASMOSIS
Toxoplasma infections are especially difficult to treat because they recur and are never eliminated from the system. Natural remedies that can help fight off this parasite are essential plant oils listed below and a healthy nutritious diet of root and leafy vegetables, fruits, seeds, herbs, spices and oily fish as well as probiotic foods, whey, cottage cheese and fish oils
Psyllium husks in water, juice or soup once a day. Makes sure to drink a full glass of water with psyllium husks.
Yoghurtwith live cultures should be consumed everyday, use as cream, as a dressing and in sauces and soups. Other probiotic foods to consume to promote the good bacteria balance in the intestines and avoid infections are brine pickles, kefir milk, kimchi, kombuchaandmiso
Use seaweed or unrefined pure sea salt or Himalayan salt crystals, instead of refined table salt which has had all nutritious elements stripped out. Many foods already contain sodium so use sparingly. Too much sodium has many adverse side effects which can lead to serious illness.
Cut meat consumption down to three times a week and consume more organ meats. Avoid processed meat products such as sausages, bacon, paté and meat pies and reconstituted meat. Protein can be obtained from nuts, legumes, seeds, cottage cheese, eggsor fish on meat free days.
Vitamin D is essential for many body processes especially concerning the bones yet 80% of the populations of northern hemisphere countries such as the UK, Europe, Canada and North America are deficient. Lack of sunshine during the winter, sunscreens and indoor workplaces are common reasons why. A daily 20 minute dose of midday sunshine on bare skin (without sunscreen and not through a window) can provide the body with all it needs. During the winter, foods rich in vitamin D and supplements of vitamin D3 (not D2) are necessary.
Iodine rich foods can combat radiation contamination which the human body is constantly bombarded with especially during long haul flights, x-rays and scans or nuclear accidents. If the body already contains a plentiful supply of iodine it will not absorb as much radiated iodine and hence reduce the risk of developing cancers. Consuming plenty of the following iodine rich foods will also provide other essential nutrients and minerals the body needs. Try to include at least one each day. See Iodine.
Clean the teeth with natural toothpastes (fluoride free) after every meal and before bed and alternate with bicarbonate of sodamixed with a littlecoconut oilwhich will kill bacteria in the mouth and also help to balance the PH of the body which will assist the immune system.
For a relaxing and cleansing bathing experience add fresh herb leaves such as bay leaf, basil, bergamot, borage, fig leaf, lavender, lemon thymeand/or mint to baths under the hot tap and leave to steep for at least 10 minutes then remove before bathing. Add one teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda or unrefined sea salt, a table spoon of coconut oil and a few drops oftea tree oil. Fresh herb leaves can be soaked in cold water with a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda then rinsed well to remove soil and microbes. This bath will also successfully treat fungal and bacterial infections of the skin and scalp.
Sugar, corn syrup, white flour, fried food, all packet, frozen and ready meals, salty & sweet snacks, biscuits and cakes
Turmeric, ginger, Japanese knotweed and motherwort if taking anticoagulants (blood thinning medication) or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory such as aspirin and ibuprofen, have heart problems and during the first trimester of pregnancy Note: motherwort may be habit forming
"Nature cures not the physician" Hippocrates 460 BC
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DISCLAIMER: The information on this websiteis not intended to diagnose medical problems, prescribe remedies for illness, or treat disease. It's intention is solely educational.If you are in any doubt about your health, please consult your medical or health professional.