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Toxoplasmosis

| October 6, 2010
Toxoplasmosis is a concern because it can cause harm to the developing human fetus if the mother is exposed during pregnancy

Toxoplasmosis is a concern because it can cause harm to the developing human fetus if the mother is exposed during pregnancy

Toxoplasmosis is a disease caused by a single celled protozoan. Although the organism can be found in many species of mammals and birds, the cat is the only species that ingests this parasite (by eating raw meat or unwashed vegetables) and then spreads it via its feces. Toxoplasmosis is a concern because it can cause harm to the developing human fetus if the mother is exposed during pregnancy.

Although many women are told by their physicians to avoid contact with cats during pregnancy, it is important to know that cats are not a high risk source of toxoplasmosis infection. Many more people are exposed to the parasite by ingesting raw or undercooked meats, and avoiding meat or cooking it thoroughly is a better way to avoid the disease than steering clear of felines. Common sense hygiene and a few extra precautions should be practiced by the pregnant woman who has a cat.

Your veterinarian can perform a fecal analysis and blood test to determine if your cat is infected. Following these tests, keep the cat indoors; if you allow your cat to roam outdoors she could subsequently pick up the parasite from the bird and small animals she may prey upon (another good reason to keep her indoors!). Since it takes 1–5 days following defecation for the infections stage of the parasite to develop, if you empty and disinfect the litterbox daily you should not be exposed to the infection.

Pregnant Women Should Follow These Precautions

  • Do not eat any raw or uncooked meat.
  • Have your cat tested by your veterinarian to be sure she is free of infection. Then keep her indoors so that she won’t eat infected meat. Also, do not feed your cat any raw meat.
  • If you can, let someone else change the litterbox daily. If this is not possible, wear rubber gloves and wash your hands thoroughly following the daily task.
  • Avoid contact with cats other than your own and stay away from sand boxes and gardening soil in which fecal contamination may exist.

Copyright & Credit:
Source: Paws – www.paws.org

Category: Feline Health, Feline Health and Care, Feline Resources

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