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Cats and Pregnancy - Toxoplasmosis

It’s not technically cats that you need to be worried during pregnancy – it’s more to do with their kitty litter.

Cat’s faeces can give you a dangerous infection called Toxoplasmosis.

Don’t panic thinking that you have to give away your beloved cat just yet. You simply need to make some adjustments as to how your kitty litter is dealt with. Your partner is about to take a much more hands-on role

What is toxoplasmosis?

Toxoplasmosis is an infection caused by a microscopic parasite called Toxoplasma gondii. In healthy people with a good immune system, the effects of toxoplasmosis are only mild. For pregnant women toxoplasmosis is far more risky. The parasite from the faeces can travel through your system and infect the placenta and your unborn baby.

The risk of your baby becoming infected increases as you progress in your pregnancy, but the effects of the infection on your baby are more damaging if infected in the first trimester. So, it’s important to avoid this infection throughout your entire pregnancy.

How contagious is the infection?

While the most common way to become infected with toxoplasmosis is through direct contact with cat faeces, you can also be exposed to the infection elsewhere. Gardening, eating unwashed vegetables, or drinking contaminated water are all other ways that you can become infected.

 You can’t catch the infection from another person who is infected with toxoplasmosis.

Symptoms of toxoplasmosis

This infection can cause mild to severe symptoms during your pregnancy.

If you become infected, you may experience symptoms, such as:

  • Swollen lymph glands
  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Headaches
  • Fever
  • Inflammation of the lungs, heart and eyes
  • Stillbirth, in rare cases

If your baby becomes infected, they may experience the following symptoms:

  • Long-term structural and neurological damage
  • Skin rashes
  • Nervous system damage
  • Mental retardation
  • Hardening of brain tissue
  • Liver damage
  • Eye problems
  • Death, in rare cases

How to avoid toxoplasmosis

The good news is that there are many ways to avoid becoming infected.

Taking a few simple precautions will reduce the risk of infection, including:

  • Washing hands thoroughly before eating
  • Wearing gloves while gardening (if your cat does it’s business in the garden)
  • Avoiding contact with cat faeces and their rear ends
  • Asking your partner to handle the emptying of your cat’s litter tray
  • Making sure your cat’s litter tray is thoroughly cleaned, daily

Treatment for toxoplasmosis

Treatment of toxoplasmosis is unnecessary for regular, healthy people. If you are infected when you are pregnant, your doctor may prescribe you with antibiotics to fight the infection.

Always consult your healthcare professional before you take any medication while you are pregnant.

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