Pregnancy and Parasites
Pregnant women are at a higher risk for acquiring diseases
transmitted from pets to humans (zoonotic diseases). It is important to speak
to your human physician regarding zoonotic diseases, if you are pregnant or are
thinking of becoming pregnant.
One of the most important zoonotic diseases for pregnant
women is called Toxoplasmosis. It is caused by the protozoan parasite called Toxoplasa gondii.
Cats are the definitive hosts. Toxoplasma gondii can be transmitted to people
by accidentally coming into contact with the infectious stage in cat feces
either from touching your mouth after changing
the kitty litter or after gardening. More commonly, people will become infected
by consuming tissue cysts in infected meat.
people who acquire the infection, will exhibit non-specific and non serious
symptoms. You cat may not show any clinical signs even if they are carriers of
the protozoa. This disease can have a devastating effect on pregnant women and
immunocompromised individuals. The rapidly dividing form of Toxoplasma gondii
can migrate across the placenta causing damage to the fetus including birth
defects, abortion and stillborns.
are steps that pregnant women and immunocompromised individuals can take to
reduce the risk of acquiring the disease. These include:
not eat undercooked meat and ensure that anything that has come into contact
with raw meat has been washed thoroughly with soap and hot water.
not drink raw milk (especially goats milk).
not allow your cat to eat raw meat.
- If possible, have a non-pregnant person clean the cat litter.
your hands thoroughly after cleaning the cat litter.
the cat litter our at least once daily.
rubber gloves when gardening.
these measures are taken, there is little risk in acquiring Toxoplasmosis from your pet cat.
more information on Toxoplasmosis, please visit CDC and VeterinaryPartner