Posts Tagged ‘toxoplasmosis’

Let someone else clean Mr. Whisker’s litter box when you’re pregnant

Monday, January 23rd, 2017

ToxoplasmosisWe often receive emails from pregnant women concerned about their cat and his litter box. Dirty cat litter might contain a harmful parasite called Toxoplasma gondii, which causes toxoplasmosis.

If you have toxoplasmosis within 6 months of getting pregnant, you may be able to pass it to your baby during pregnancy. Toxoplasmosis can cause pregnancy complications such as preterm birth (birth before 37 weeks) and stillbirth. The earlier in pregnancy you get infected, the more serious the baby’s problems may be after birth. For example, a baby could have a birth defect called microcephaly or vision problems.

Do you need to find Mr. Whiskers a new home?

The good news is that your cat can stay. But, you should have your partner, a friend, or family member change your cat’s litter for you. If you must change it yourself, be sure you wear gloves and wash your hands thoroughly afterward.

Is it just Mr. Whiskers? Or are there other ways to get toxoplasmosis?

You can also come in contact with the parasite that causes toxoplasmosis through:

  • Eating raw or undercooked meat – be sure to cook meat thoroughly and wash your hands after handling raw meat.
  • Eating unwashed fruits and vegetables – peel or thoroughly wash all raw fruits and vegetables before eating.
  • Touching kitchen utensils and cutting boards used to prepare raw or undercooked meat and fruits and vegetables – clean cutting boards, work surfaces and utensils with hot, soapy water after using them.
  • Touching dirt or sand – use work gloves when gardening and be sure to wash your hands afterward. Stay away from children’s sandboxes as well.

Pregnancy is a time of many changes, and it’s also a time to ask for help when you need it. Mr. Whiskers won’t mind that someone else is changing his litter box so that you can protect yourself during pregnancy.

For more information on toxoplasmosis, see our web article. Have questions? Text or email us at AskUS@marchofdimes.org.

Toxoplasmosis

Friday, November 4th, 2011

Toxoplasmosis is an infection caused by a parasite. It’s one of the most common infections in the world and may be dangerous to a developing baby. Fortunately, a pregnant woman can follow some simple precautions that can reduce her chances of becoming infected.

More than 60 million people in the United States may be infected. Most people, however, have no symptoms, so they may not know they’re infected. A small number of infected individuals develop symptoms that resemble the flu or infectious mononucleosis, including swollen glands, fatigue, muscle aches, malaise and fever. These symptoms may last for a month or longer.

About one out of three pregnant women who develop toxoplasmosis pass the infection on to their babies, sometimes resulting in vision and learning problems, serious newborn complications and, occasionally, death. Toxoplasmosis during pregnancy also can cause preterm delivery  or stillbirth.

A woman can get toxoplasmosis by eating raw or undercooked meat or by contact with cat feces. Because more than half of all pregnancies in the United States are unplanned, all women who could become pregnant should follow precautions.

Pregnant women can reduce their risk of toxoplasmosis by avoiding possible sources of the infection, such as eating raw or undercooked meats or cleaning up cat feces. (A pregnant woman should ask someone else to change the cat’s litter box.) Read more of the steps that you can take to prevent toxoplasmosis during pregnancy, how an infection is diagnosed and treated, and how infected newborns are treated at this link.

Pets during pregnancy

Thursday, April 30th, 2009

lola-2My husband and I had a recent addition to our home. Her name is Lola – a 4-month-old Boston Terrier that we adopted from an animal rescue center. Lola is such a cutie pie! She’s as playful as any other puppy and loves to cuddle when I pick her up. As the first addition to our family, Lola knows she’s the star of the show. But one day, when my husband and I are getting ready to welcome our first baby into the world, Lola will have to make room!

Pets can bring much fun and joy to the household dynamic. But pregnant women and mommies with young kids need to be careful about the kinds of animals they keep in their home and particularly how to handle them. Some things to keep in mind:

• Dogs with bad habits (biting or pouncing) should be broken of these habits before the baby arrives.

• If you have a cat, have someone else change its litter box to avoid getting toxoplasmosis during pregnancy. This infection can cause birth defects or loss of pregnancy.

• Hamsters, guinea pigs and pet mice may carry a virus called lymphocytic choriomeningitis (LCMV), which can cause severe birth defects during pregnancy. Keep these pets in a separate part of the home and have someone else feed the pet and clean its cage.

Turtles, reptiles and other exotic pets may carry salmonellosis (salmonella infection). Pregnant women and children under age 5 are at increased risk of this bacterial infection, so it’s best if they stay away from these kinds of animals.

Learn more and get helpful tips about how to handle pets and other animals during pregnancy.

ABC’s of a healthy pregnancy, R–Z

Thursday, July 24th, 2008

This is the final post in our series, the ABC’s of a healthy pregnancy.  Please read our previous posts on guidelines A–G and H–Q to help increase your chances of having a healthy baby.

R:  Rodents, including pet hamsters, mice and guinea pigs, should be avoided during pregnancy.  These animals can spread diseases that can harm your baby.

S:  Stressing out?  Pregnancy is a stressful time for many women.  Very high levels of stress may contribute to preterm birth or low birth weight in full-term babies. Recognize that you do indeed feel stressed and, when possible, avoid situations that cause you stress.

T:  Toxoplasmosis is an infection caused by a parasite and can pose serious risks to a woman’s unborn baby. Stay away from raw or undercooked meat, especially lamb or pork.  Wash hands frequently and avoid handling cat litter.

U:  The urge to urinate often increases in pregnant women.  To help deal with frequent urination, avoid caffeine beverages such as coffee or tea that can make you urinate more frequently.

V:  Vaccines can protect you and your baby against infections that can be harmful.  If you are pregnant or planning pregnancy, ask your health provider if your vaccinations are up to date.  Find out which vaccines you should consider taking before or during pregnancy.

W:  How much weight a pregnant woman should gain depends on her health and body mass index (BMI).  Calculate your BMI using your height and weight before pregnancy.  Women with a normal BMI should expect to gain between 25-35 pounds during pregnancy.   Women who are overweight and have a high BMI should gain between 15-25 pounds.

X:  X-rays should be avoided during pregnancy.  If you need to have dental work or medical tests done while pregnant, tell your provider so extra care can be taken.

Y:  Your body may experience several changes during pregnancy including your hair, gums and teeth, breasts and skin.  These changes are common and women can take steps to alleviate their symptoms to feel more comfortable.

Z:  Get your ZZZZZs. Most women are more tired than usual during pregnancy, especially during early and late pregnancy.  Get plenty of rest. If you’re having trouble sleeping, try taking a warm shower, napping during the day, going to bed earlier and using pillows to make you comfortable.