Tips to Prevent Toxoplasmosis

Toxoplasmosis is a well-known threat to pregnant women. There are even doctors who go to extremes – advising expecting women to give away any cats in the household.

If you own a pet, you know giving him or her away is the last thing you want. Luckily, getting rid of kitty isn’t necessary, so long as you follow some simple steps for precaution. 

What is Toxoplasmosis?

Toxoplasmosis is a blood infection that can affect your child during pregnancy. Although the parasite can be contracted by anyone, it only causes a mild illness, as opposed to the threat it poses to your unborn child.

According to PetMD, Toxoplasmosis is caused by a one-celled parasite (protozoan) known as Toxoplasma gondii. 

The disease can be transmitted to humans several ways, one such way is via contact with cat feces. While this can obviously happen when cleaning your cat’s litter box, it can also happen when gardening. Neighborhood cats may defecate in the soil, so always wear gloves.

It’s not only cats though – raw meat or contaminated vegetables can also cause toxoplasmosis. In fact, the chances of getting toxoplasmosis from your cat is a long shot, IF your cat is indoors and is not out hunting.

The most common environments for toxoplasmosis are warm and moist climates. In America, animal shelters, veterinary clinics and meat packing plants are most conducive to the transmission of the parasite.

Is Toxoplasmosis common?

According to AmericanPregnancy.org, 1 out of 1,000-8,000 U.S babies are born with toxoplasmosis. These numbers skyrocket in places such as South America.

It is also more common in France, due to their preference for rarely-cooked meats.

Just because you contract the parasite does not mean your baby is necessarily going to. According to Tommys.org,

“On average, only 4 in 10 of such infections will pass to the baby. Caught during pregnancy, toxoplasmosis can cause miscarriage, stillbirth or damage to the baby’s brain and other organs, particularly the eyes.”

Precautions for Pregnant Women

While it is certainly possible to be infected by your cat’s litter box, it is not the most common way of infection. Most people are infected by other means, such as the aforementioned contaminated meat.

Note: A woman who is infected with the parasite months before becoming pregnant does not put their unborn child at risk.

Here are some tips to help you avoid toxoplasmosis during pregnancy:

  • Avoid raw meat and cured meat
  • When preparing raw meat, wash hands, chopping boards and all other utensils thoroughly, immediately.
  • If handling kitty-litter, always wear protective rubber gloves (preferably ask someone else)
  • If you own a sandbox or sandpit, cover it so outdoor cats don’t use it as a receptacle.
  • Avoid unpasteurized goats’ milk and all dairy products made from it.
  • Keep cats off counters and tabletops.
  • Do not feed raw meat to your cat(s).
  • When not preparing meat yourself, stress that it must be well done.

In general, good hygienic measures help prevent transmission of toxoplasmosis.

Conclusion

Your healthcare provider will most likely screen for toxoplasmosis immunity before pregnancy. If not before, then during the first pre-natal visit. A simple blood test can determine if you have been exposed.

In the event you do contract this illness during pregnancy, treatment typically consists of several months of antibiotics. Cordocentesis is also a test that can determine if an infection has occurred during pregnancy.

As long as you practice good kitchen-hygiene when preparing meat and wear gloves when handling soil and cat litter, you should be protected from this parasite. Follow all the tips above and always talk to your doctor.

 

 

This article is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. It is strictly informational.

 

 

 

 

The post Pregnancy and Cats: Tips to Prevent Toxoplasmosis appeared first on Breast Pump Blog | Breastfeeding Blog.