Toxoplasma gondii is a ubiquitous obligate intracellular apicomplexan parasite that can infect many species of mammals and birds worldwide.
Life Cycle: Cats harbor high quantities of T. gondii in their digestive tract and serve as definite hosts. One infected cat is able to shed up to 100 million oocysts in their feces in less than a 2 week period. These oocysts are able to sporulate and become infectious to chickens in 1 to 5 days.
Survival in the Environment: T. gondii oocysts remain in the environment for at least one year, usually longer depending on the environment.
Transmission: Poultry are often infected through contamination of T. gondii ooysts with the environment. Contamination is predicted as widespread throughout the United States, as a result of fecal contamination of soil and ground-water by the estimated 140 million domestic and feral cats in the US, each of which can deposit hundreds of millions of oocysts in feces during infection.