Family Cats and Pregnant Women: Take Measures to Prevent Toxoplasmosis Infection

image of cat and pregnant lady's belly.

Nothing must spoil the joys of becoming a new parent. Not even your pets. But family cats with normal, every day habits can pose a risk to expectant women. Women's immune systems can be disturbed by a parasite carried in fecal matter. If you're the primary caretaker of your family's feline friend it may be time to ask for help.

Toxoplasmosis is a disease that can be transmitted from cats to humans by ingestion of undercooked meat products or contact with the stool of a contaminated cat. Toxoplasmosis can cause serious problems during pregnancy.

Cats allowed to roam outdoors are more likely to carry the parasite responsible for the toxoplasmosis infection. They can hunt and kill mice and rats during the nighttime hours. When the rodents are infected with the Toxoplasma parasite, a cat ingesting the diseased rodent can spread this infection through its fecal matter to humans. Pregnant women have an increased sensitivity to the dangers of that contamination.

Cats living in an outdoor environment are also defecating outdoors. They habitually bury their stool in flower beds, gardens and other soft soil areas. Women who are pregnant must be aware that contact with dirt that has been used by an infected cat is also a danger. Keeping cats indoors will eliminate their exposure to potentially infected rodents and decrease your chance of coming into contact with the toxoplasmosis parasite.

"More that 60 million men, women, and children in the U.S. carry the Toxoplasma parasite, but very few have symptoms because the immune system usually keeps the parasite from causing illness," advises the United States Center for Disease Control. Appropriate testing can help your doctor determine the potential impact on your immune system.

The Center for Disease Control recommends that specific measures be taken to prevent exposure to the toxoplasmosis infection. The CDC's preventative measures include:

  • Avoid changing the cat's litter yourself whenever possible.
  • Wear gloves if you must change it yourself.
  • Wash your hands immediately after changing the litter.
  • Wear gloves when you are outside gardening, planting flowers, vegetables, weeding or in contact with soil that could be a potential source of contamination.
  • Keep litter boxes outside your home covered.
  • Delegate changing the cat's litter to another family member.
  • Change the litter on a daily basis because the parasite is most infectious in just-eliminated fecal matter for at least the first five days.
  • Keep Fluffy or Garfield inside your house, apartment or condo throughout your pregnancy.
  • Wear gloves and/or wash your hands thoroughly after handling raw meats.

"The risk to the baby increases the later in the pregnancy the new infection is acquired," says Michael Richards, DVM. Check in with your veterinarian early in your pregnancy to ensure a healthy infant.

Call to schedule your pet's wellness or urgent care exam now: (952) 758-6722

Testimonials

  • We have been clients of New Prague Animal Care for over 13 years. They have provided exceptional and compassionate care for our “pack” (6 dogs and 3 cats). As a professional dog trainer, breeder of Best in Show and Master Hunter Retrievers as well an owner of multiple kennel/ doggy daycare facilities (30+ years), I have worked with numerous veterinary clinics both in the Twin Cities and nationwide. Dr. Steve and his crew rate among the finest I have worked with. The clinic has all of the fea

    ...
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  • My dad has taken all of his dogs there for years, and I take mine there as well. Dr. Lavalle's bedside manner is amazing, and his staff are so genuine and caring. I always have, and will continue referring people to take their pets here. They are hands down the best veterinary care in the area!

    - Amber C
  • Have taken our dogs to Dr. Lavallee for over 10 years and he is great with each of them. He and his staff are very caring and helpful.

    - Barb S
  • Middle of a snow storm a few days ago. My little puppy was injured. I live in Faribult. Vet offices were closed in town. They actually called me while in route to see if I was ok. They were so good with the puppy. The cost was very reasonable. Called today to see how everything was going. I really was very impressed with this office. I recommend this place.

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  • Awesome experience! My pets love the care they get from Dr. Lavallee and his staff! They are not just a number; they care for them like my babies are family! Would highly recommend them!

    - SGGM
  • Found a 6-wk old kitten on the side of the highway and brought it in at 7pm on emergency basis. I was blown away by the compassion of Dr. Johnson's team. What a great experience. True animal people!

    - Anna H
  • Moved to New Prague and found this place for our dog.. Such great service, friendly staff, amazing Dr. and very accommodating to all of our needs!! Highly recommended by my pet family!!!

    - Kerri N
  • We love New Prague Animal Care, they are always so kind and caring, from the phone calls to when you walk in. We take our Siberian Husky Bandit in and he gets so much attention, well loved. We've had to take him in twice for emergencies, the in house testing was great, Dr. Johnson was able to resolve the issue almost immediately. I wouldn't take him anywhere else.

    ...
    Read More - Myra C

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