Toxoplasmosis is considered to be a leading cause of death attributed to foodborne illness in the United States. Toxoplasmosis is causes by a eukaryotic protozoan named Toxoplasma gondii. Toxoplasma gondii has two types of hosts, a definite host and intermediate host. The main carrier is cats and they are accepted as the main host. Intermediate hosts include humans, birds, rodents and other warm blooded animals. The only difference between the two hosts is that in the definite hosts Toxoplasma gondii experiences a sexual stage in which it is able to reproduce, and in intermediate hosts it experiences an asexual stage. In both hosts Toxoplasma gondii enters the cell, forms vacuoles, and protects itself from the immune system. If the immune system is weak then it can cause disease, but if the immune system is uncompromised then the vacuoles form cysts in the muscles and brain of the infected organism. There are four methods in which one might come in contact with the Toxoplasma infection; foodborne, animal-to-human, mother-to-child, and rare cases. The tissue form of Toxoplasma gondii (cysts) can be transmitted to humans by ingestion through food. Cats are the main carriers of Toxoplasma gondii but they can get infected by eating infected rodents or birds. Infected cats release millions of oocysts in their feces for around three weeks after being infected. Where the cat relieves itself determines who comes into contact with the oocysts. The care givers are at risk if the cat is accustomed to using a litter box, and the other cats, rodents, and small mammals are at risk if the cat is a stray. Congenital transmission is from a newly infected mother to her unborn child. Though the mother may not show signs of contamination there could be serious consequences to the pregnancy. Rare cases of transmission usually involve accidental ingestion of oocytes. Most people can be infected by toxoplasmosis and not even know it. People with healthy immune systems...
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