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Do I really have to do-in Daphne?
Jan 21, 1997

Dr. Gallant, I have a cat that's been with me for years. (You may have guessed that her name is Daphne.) My T-cells are now below 200 and my friends are telling me that I should give her away (or WORSE!) so I won't get toxo or something like that. I'd rather get toxo than get rid of Daphne. Please help me, before my "friends" get rid of her when I'm not looking! Thanks!

Response from Dr. Gallant

I hope my answer gets posted in time! What kind of friends are these who would deprive you of your beloved Daphne? Dog lovers, I suspect.

You should NOT get rid of Daphne, at least not for the reasons your friends give. Here's why:

Older cats don't usually transmit toxoplasmosis--kittens do, usually in their first six months of life.

Cats cause infection with Toxoplasma gondii, the parasite that causes toxoplasmosis, when you change litter boxes. If you don't have anyone to do it for you, then simply by wearing gloves and washing your hands well afterwards, you should be fine. Furthermore, if you change the box daily that lowers the risk-- cat poop that's been sitting around a long time is more likely to transmit the parasite. A fresh box each day will also make Daphne a happier puss.

For all you know you may be already infected, in which case it's not an issue. Your doctor should check your Toxoplasma antibody. If it's negative then you should take these precautions I've been mentioning. Toxoplasmosis doesn't usually occur until the CD4 count is below 100. At that point, those who are antibody positive should receive prophylaxis (preferably with Bactrim, or with dapsone + pyrimethamine, both of which cover PCP as well).

Show this answer to your friends, and tell them to leave poor Daphne alone. She may be doing you more good than they are.

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