Thursday, January 14, 2010
The ER doctor called last night to say one of the tests showed an exposure to Toxoplasma gondii (not a confirmed toxoplasmosis infection, just exposure, but the test is somewhat inconclusive in that regard).
Here is what I know of the parasite. It is common. Many humans are carriers. The risk of toxoplasmosis is the reason pregnant women should not change a cat's litter box, though people are far more likely to become infected from tainted meat than from their cats. Many cats already have it and may never show symptoms. However, once they have it, they develop antibodies and should never show symptoms after the initial infection. They also only shed eggs after the initial infection.
Toxoplasmosis can cause fever, loss of appetite, lethargy, pneumonia, blindness, loss of coordination, or seizures. Miss Luna had fever, loss of appetite, lethargy, respiratory issues, and loss of coordination. And, get this; it's possible that toxoplasmosis, not Feline Herpesvirus, caused Aura's blindness. Actually, with this news, it's highly likely.
That also means it's highly likely that Aura brought the parasite into an environment that should have been, for all intents and purposes, free from it. Symptoms, if they appear at all, are usually after initial infection, which means it wasn't dormant in Miss Luna and just choosing to come out now. It means exposure was recent. It also means that, once it runs through the cats of the house, they will all have the proper antibodies and any eggs still in the environment won't harm them. It further means that, once it has run through and the period of egg-shedding is over, there is no reason why I can't take Miss Luna with me when I visit my parents if I want. There's a bit of a bright side. This is assuming my information from the doctor and my research is correct.
Now, Dreá had the fever/loss of appetite/lethargy bit, but they didn't test for toxoplasmosis. Roscoe had a slight fever and some lethargy, but my roommate did not take him to a doctor. It is possible that Roscoe has a stronger immune system than the other two cats, so symptoms didn't hit him as hard. I wonder if the anemia or enlarged heart is what made the symptoms so awful for Miss Luna.
There are still mysteries, and it's still frustrating. But, if my conclusions are correct, that actually makes things a little easier because, once we get this under control, our animals shouldn't have any more problems and shouldn't be a danger to other animals. Miss Luna has a follow-up today to check her red blood cell count, and I'll be sure to bring my questions. And I'll be coming home with yet another antibiotic. They also want to re-test her levels in a few weeks and she still needs to see a cardiologist.
My poor baby. She had to spend a weekend with the evil (but helpful) doctors, and she has to go back at least thrice more (and, if we're both lucky, that's all she'll need). She has to take this awful antibiotic and another will be added (hopefully in a pill form). The good side is that she is doing worlds better. She's talking to me like she used to, begging for her food, and prodding me to wake up. She's all over the house, climbing on things, jumping on things. That little part of her arm where they had to shave her for the catheter looks funny, doesn't it? Poor girl!