I just bought a cat and at the same time I found out my wife is expecting a baby. I am concerned about toxoplasmosis infection. Please tell me how my wife could take special precautions in order to have a healthy baby.
Congratulations on both counts. You are right to be concerned about toxoplasmosis, but it’s something to be aware of, not alarmed about. And you can keep your cat.
Toxoplasmosis is a disease caused by a parasite that lives in cats and can be spread through their feces. You can also get it from eating raw or undercooked meat that contains the parasite. When humans catch the disease, there are no symptoms in four out of five cases. People with weakened immune systems, such as those with AIDS or cancer, are more likely to become symptomatic.
If a pregnant woman gets toxoplasmosis, she may possibly pass the infection to her baby. The disease can cause serious health problems as the infant grows. But don’t panic. Even if your cat does have the parasite, there are some simple, effective steps you can take to protect your wife and baby.
As of this moment, your wife is off litter-box duty. You change the litter. Make sure to scoop out the feces every day. Wash your hands thoroughly afterwards. Don’t feed your cat raw or undercooked meat. Keeping your cat indoors will reduce its chances of getting the parasite, since they usually catch it from rodents and birds they’ve killed.
There are a few more precautions, unrelated to the cat. Only eat meat that has been thoroughly cooked. Always wash your hands after handling raw meat. Wash all fruits and vegetables before eating them raw. If you are a gardener, cat feces may have infected the soil with the parasite, so wear garden gloves.