How You Can Avoid Toxoplasmosis
If you are pregnant and you have a cat, there are some important things you need to know about toxoplasmosis and pregnancy. Toxoplasmosis can pose a great health risk to a pregnant woman and a developing fetus. If you want to know what toxoplasmosis is, how it can hurt you and how it can hurt your baby, you need to read on…
What is Toxoplasmosis?
Toxoplasmosis is actually the layperson term for a disease caused by a parasite whose scientific name is Toxoplasma gondii. In the U.S. alone, it is believed that well over 60-million people may be infected with the parasite without even realizing it. Healthy individuals may exhibit no outward symptoms of being infected. However, during pregnancy, the immune system is at risk.
How Is Toxoplasmosis Transmitted?
Toxoplasmosis is caused by accidental ingestion of cat feces. If you clean your cat’s litter box and unconsciously touch your mouth, you could become infected with the Toxoplasma organism. It is also important to cook meat thoroughly and wash your hands after preparing raw meat as raw or partly cooked meat can be a potential source of contamination. Make sure you wash all kitchen utensils properly if they have been in contact with raw meat. A pregnant woman who has toxoplasmosis is at risk for a stillbirth and other birth complications.
There are some symptoms of toxoplasmosis of which you should be aware. You might have flu-like symptoms that persist for several weeks or longer. You might have swollen lymph glands or muscle pains. Many individuals are actually not even aware that they are infected with toxoplasmosis, though.
Testing Is Possible
If you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant, you should definitely be tested for Toxoplasma. If your test is negative, you should take proper precautions to reduce your risk of becoming infected. Wear gloves when you are doing any activity outdoors especially gardening and wash your hands thoroughly when you are finished outdoors. Also, avoid cleaning your cat’s litter box. Have someone else clean the litter box daily. The Toxoplasma parasite needs a day or more to become infectious, so having the litter box cleaned regularly will reduce your risk for toxoplasmosis.