Toxoplasmosis and pregnancy

By Susan Aielo • Published: February 22nd, 2011
Category: Animal Airwaves

If you’re pregnant, it doesn’t mean you need to send your favorite feline packing.

While it’s OK for pregnant women to handle cats, they should avoid kitty’s litter box.

The toxoplasma parasite multiplies in the feline intestine and travels as cysts in cat feces. People are dead-end hosts for this feline parasite, so ingested cysts tend to wander about the human body until they become harmlessly walled off in muscle or internal organs. Problems can occur if that internal organ happens to be a developing fetus.

It takes several days for cysts to become infective, so someone in the household should clean the litter box daily. Because the parasite is typically found in young cats that hunt, keeping cats indoors can help, too. Also, avoid eating undercooked meat and wash thoroughly after gardening or handling potentially contaminated soil… steps to keep you, kitty and baby safe.