Cats can give you a nasty parasitic infection called Toxoplasmosis.

toxoplasmosis

Toxoplasmosis is something everyone should be aware of, even if you don’t have a cat. It can have serious consequences on pregnant women. Only approximately 15 percent of women of childbearing age are immune, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Fortunately, the number of women who contract the infection during pregnancy is still relatively small, and not all of them transmit it to their babies. Awareness is key to avoiding the infection.

What is Toxoplasmosis?

Toxoplasmosis is caused by a parasite which can be found in cat faeces as well as under cooked meats. In most cases, the symptoms will be mild, such as feeling achy and flu like. However, it can have serious consequences on pregnant women; miscarriage, still birth and baby organ damage.

How to avoid infection:

  1. Avoid cat litter and soil contaminated with cat feces.
  2. Cover children’s outdoor sandboxes to prevent cats from using them as litter boxes.
  3. Wear gloves when gardening or handling sand from a sandbox. Wash hands well afterwards.
  4. Try to limit your contact with stray cats, especially kittens.
  5. Cook your meat well done. Do not eat under cooked or rare meats.
  6. Wash your hands with soap and water after any exposure to soil, sand, raw meat or unwashed vegetables.
  7. Wash all cooking utensils thoroughly, especially after contact with raw meat.

Symptoms?

The symptoms of toxoplasmosis during pregnancy are quite flu-like. You will be excessively tired; achy, sore throat, swollen glands and a high fever of 100.4 or above. Your doctor will need to do a blood test to confirm a diagnosis. So it is always a good idea to let your GP know that you are a cat owner, or have suspicions you may have been exposed.

Treatment:

If you do contract Toxoplasmosis while pregnant, you may be given antibiotics to help reduce the risk of passing infection on to your unborn baby. If you are worried or would like to know more about Toxoplasmosis, we have provided a link to the HSE website here.

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