THE MORE COMMONS PARASITES
Giardia (Giardia intestinalis) is one of the protozoa that can infect many mammals, including dogs, cats, and even humans. These tiny parasites invade the intestines, cover the intestinal wall, and reduce the absorption of nutrients. Such malabsorption can cause chronic and intermittent diarrhea, loss of appetite, vomiting, weight loss, and apathy. Stools will have mucus and a paste-like consistency.
Occasionally, protozoa will form cysts and spread in the surrounding environment via stools. These microscopic cysts are infectious and easily spread orally, especially when pets ingest water or food that has been contaminated by feces.
There are many kinds of Coccidia, but here we will discuss C. isospora and C. neospora that infect cats and dogs. They are species specific, meaning that they only infect one species at a time.
Therefore, feline Coccidia infects only cats and canine Coccidia infects only dogs. The parasite infects and overtakes the intestinal cells of the cat or the dog to reproduce. Such an infection can cause diarrhea (possibly severe and bloody) in puppies and kittens. Which may require intensive care. Coccidia located in the intestines will form oocysts and spread in the surrounding environment via stools.
Animals get infected by ingesting oocysts found in the environment once Coccidia is spore-forming and infectious.
Toxoplasma (Toxoplasma gondii)
These protozoa are the most popular parasite on the plant because, unfortunately, they can infect pregnant mothers and their fetuses. They reproduce in felines. Infecting the cat’s intestines where they multiply and then form oocysts (small eggs), and spread in the surrounding environment via stools.
The eggs are then ingested accidentally by other mammals (intermediate hosts). Parasites hatch their oocysts and migrate from the intestines to various organs and tissues to form a cyst. The cycle is complete when a cat, or any other feline, eats a prey (mouse, rat, chicken, etc.) that contains toxoplasma cysts. It gets infected and the parasite can reproduce again.
Cats most likely get infected when they hunt, and they evacuate eggs in their stools for 2 to 3 weeks. During which time they show few to no symptoms. After that, they are immune and the parasite can no longer reproduce.