Experts say that more research is needed on the disease, but that cat poo can contain the parasite as can undercooked meat.

Research currently shows that one or two in every 10 people have symptoms, but there are fears that the disease has the potential to spread, meaning we should have measures in place to stop it.

Those with weak immune systems or cancer and HIV could be more susceptible to health problems when infected. While infected pregnant women could give birth to a blind baby. According to BBC News: “Three babies in every 100,000 are born with the condition in the UK.”

A recent report from the Food Standards Agency explains that they lack facts about the disease. “This thorough and detailed report points out key gaps in our knowledge about this parasite,” said FSA Chief Scientist, Andrew Wadge, “more research is needed which will help us in estimating how much infection is due to food and which foods might be the highest risk.

“The report also suggests we look again at our advice to vulnerable groups and ensure that it reflects current scientific knowledge. We’re going to look carefully at the report’s recommendations and will publish a response in due course.”

Sarah O’Brien, Chair of the Advisory Committee on the Microbiological Safety of Food agrees with FSA spokesman Wadge, she comments on the FSA website: “This report shows that there is more work to be done to estimate how big an issue toxoplasmosis is for the general population. I think we understand better the risks involved for those who are pregnant or have a weakened immune system which is why the FSA issues specific advice for these groups.

Though this may be worrying information for the average consumer, O’Brien believes people shouldn’t start changing their diets.

“There is no evidence to suggest that people generally should change their eating habits, and I think the FSA is right to say that most of the population can continue to enjoy lamb and beef cooked rare.”

In 80 per cent of cases those infected with the parasite will not have any symptoms, while others may develop similar symptoms to the flu.

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