Water company comment on this
In the UK, Collette Parker, Anglian Water customer engagement manager, said:
This kind of animal waste should never be flushed down the loo. Although rare, dog and cat poo can carry Toxocara, which is one of the very few bacteria [they mean parasite] that we are unable to eliminate in our water treatment processes. Flushing cat litter down the loo can also lead to blockages in our sewer network, putting the region’s much-loved environment at risk.
What is Toxocara and why can’t it be removed by water company treatments?
Toxocara is a type of parasitic roundworm (endoparasite) that can infect a range of animals, including dogs, cats, foxes, and even humans. The infection is caused by the ingestion of eggs that have been shed in the feces of infected animals. The disease is called Toxocariasis aka a roundworm infection.
In terms of water treatment, Toxocara eggs are relatively resistant to most of the standard water treatment processes used by water companies, including chlorination, ozonation, and UV disinfection. This is because the eggs are surrounded by a protective layer that makes them more resistant to environmental stresses, including chemical disinfection.
Decontamination of the environment is difficult because T. cati eggs are resistant to many common disinfectants – Today’s Veterinary Practice<
As a result, it can be difficult for water companies to completely remove Toxocara from waste water, which can pose a risk to human health if the contaminated water is consumed or used for other purposes, such as irrigation. To reduce the risk of infection, it is important to properly dispose of animal waste and to avoid contact with soil or water that may be contaminated with Toxocara eggs.
Toxocara is zoonotic meaning it can infect animals and people and be transmitted between them. This makes it all the more important not to flush cat litter down the loo.
Training cats to use the human toilet
There is has become popular in the past 10 years. It looks interesting and efficient. After all there is no cat litter to mess around with. But Toxocara might be transmitted to others as mentioned.
How common is Toxocara in domestic cats?
A study found that “in the United States, T. cati (Toxocara cati) was detected by fecal flotation for 4% of cats in 2022, although those results may underestimate the exact prevalence.”
There is a weakness in the argument that cat litter should not be thrown down the toilet as it spreads T.cati. As mentioned, humans get it too and can therefore transmit it via the sewage system. But that simple fact does not mean that cat owners should not do their best to prevent their cats spreading the disease.
How common is the disease in humans?
CDC in America says that about 5% of the US human population has been infected with Toxocara. The picture is worse globally and the prevalence rate can reach as high as 40% in some parts of the world. The problem is exacerbated in regions where there are high humid conditions where eggs are able to survive better in the soil. People with dogs are more likely to be infected in children and adolescents are also more likely to be infected because young people are more likely to play in outdoor environment where there are dog get faeces. Lastly, the infection is more common among people living in poverty.
Below are some more pages on parasites affecting domestic cats. There are many more pages on this website so please use the search facility to access them if you are interested.
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