Posts Tagged ‘toxoplasmosis’

Preventing infections during pregnancy

Wednesday, February 21st, 2018

February is International Prenatal Infection Prevention month. Here are some ways that you can try to prevent infections during pregnancy.

Wash your hands: Washing your hands regularly can help to reduce the spread of colds, the flu and other infections, like cytomegalovirus (CMV).

Wash your hands:

  • Before preparing or eating food
  • After handling raw meat, raw eggs or unwashed vegetables
  • After being around pets or animals
  • After changing diapers, wiping runny noses, or picking up toys

Prepare food properly: Handle foods safely whenever you wash, prepare, cook and store them. Wash knives, cutting boards and dishes used to prepare raw meat, fish or poultry before using them for other foods. Foods to avoid during pregnancy include raw meat, fish, and eggs and unpasteurized foods.

Get vaccinated: Vaccinations can help protect you and your baby from certain infections during pregnancy. Some vaccinations are safe to get during pregnancy, but others are not. Talk to your provider to make sure any vaccination you get during pregnancy is safe. Make sure your vaccinations are up to date before you get pregnant.

Protect yourself from Zika: If you get infected with the Zika virus during pregnancy, you can pass it to your baby. It causes a birth defect called microcephaly and other brain problems. Zika virus spreads through mosquito bites and through body fluids, like blood and semen.

  • If you’re pregnant or trying to get pregnant, don’t visit a Zika-affected area unless absolutely necessary.
  • Protect yourself from mosquito bites.
  • If your male or female partner may be infected with Zika, use a barrier method (like a condom) every time you have sex or don’t have sex at all.
  • If you’re pregnant and think you may have been exposed to Zika virus, see your health care provider right away.

Ask someone else to clean your cat’s litter box: If you have to do it yourself, wear gloves. Wash your hands thoroughly when you’re done emptying the litter. Dirty cat litter may contain toxoplasmosis, an infection caused by a parasite. Toxoplasmosis can cause health problems for your baby during pregnancy.

Get tested for sexually transmitted infections (STIs): STIs are infections you can get from having unprotected sex with someone who’s infected. If you’re pregnant and have an STI, it can cause serious problems for your baby, including premature birth and birth defects. Testing for STIs is a part of prenatal care. If you have an STI, getting treatment early can help protect your baby.

Have testing for Group B Strep (GBS): Many people carry Group B strep bacteria and don’t know it. It may never make you sick. GBS in adults usually doesn’t have any symptoms, but it can cause some minor infections, like a bladder or urinary tract infection (UTI). While GBS may not be harmful to you, it can be very harmful to your baby. Your provider tests you for GBS at 35 to 37 weeks of pregnancy. If you have GBS, you’ll receive IV antibiotics during labor and birth.

Talk to your health care provider: Talk to your provider about how to prevent infections, making sure that you’re up-to-date on your vaccinations before pregnancy, and what vaccinations you need during pregnancy.

Have questions? Text or email us at Askus@marchofdimes.org.

 

“Spread Prevention, Not the Infection” during Pregnancy: Toxoplasmosis

Wednesday, January 24th, 2018

This year the theme of  National Birth Defects Prevention Month is Prevent to Protect. This week we will be posting a series of guest posts from MotherToBaby’s Kirstie Perrotta, MPH, Lorrie Harris-Sagaribay, MPH, Robert Felix and Susan Sherman of the Organization of Teratology Information Specialists (OTIS) Zika Task Force. Each day they will respond to one of the top five questions they receive about preventable infectious diseases and what you can do to prevent exposure during pregnancy.

“It’s 2018! I didn’t even know you could get syphilis nowadays!” Yes, I mentioned the stats about syphilis and other infections that can affect pregnancy to the caller who had contacted me through our free MotherToBaby helpline. I thought, this is a great time to educate her as well as others about a variety of infections. Some infections, like Zika, seem to make headlines every week, while others tend to be discussed much less frequently. January is National Birth Defects Prevention Month, and this year’s focus is on infection prevention.

I didn’t find out I was pregnant until 12 weeks, and I’ve been changing my cat’s litter box this whole time. Am I at risk for toxoplasmosis?

Toxoplasmosis infection is caused by the parasite Toxoplasma gondii. You can get it from handling cat feces or soil, or eating undercooked, infected meat that contains the parasite. Eating raw eggs or drinking unpasteurized milk are also possible sources.

Most adults with toxoplasmosis don’t have symptoms, but some have symptoms similar to the flu or mononucleosis, with swelling of the lymph nodes, fever, headache or muscle pain. In most cases, once a person gets toxoplasmosis, they cannot get it again. If a woman has an active toxoplasmosis infection during pregnancy, it can pass to the developing baby (called congenital toxoplasmosis infection). Not every infected baby will have problems, but the infection could cause a variety of developmental problems for the infant.

Up to 85% of pregnant women in the U.S. are at risk for toxoplasmosis infection. Generally, women who have recently acquired a cat or care for an outdoor cat may be at an increased risk for toxoplasmosis. Ask yourself: Have you ever been diagnosed with toxoplasmosis? How long have you had your cat? Is your cat indoor only, outdoor only, or both? Do you feed the cat raw meat? Talk to your healthcare provider if you have concerns and want to learn more about a blood test that can determine if you have ever had toxoplasmosis.

To avoid future infection, here are some precautions you can take: (1) wash your hands carefully after handling raw meat fruit, vegetables, and soil; (2) do not touch cat feces, or else wear gloves and immediately wash your hands afterwards if you must change the cat litter; (3) wash all fruits and vegetables; peeling fruits and vegetables can also help reduce risk of exposure; (4) cook meat until it is no longer pink and the juices run clear; and (5) do not feed your cat raw meat.

Other posts in the series:

“Spread Prevention, Not the Infection” during Pregnancy: Zika

“Spread Prevention, Not the Infection” during Pregnancy: Listeria

“Spread Prevention, Not the Infection” during Pregnancy: Syphilis

Have questions? Email us at AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

About MotherToBaby 

MotherToBabyis a service of the Organization of Teratology Information Specialists (OTIS), suggested resources by many agencies including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). If you have questions about exposures during pregnancy and breastfeeding, please call MotherToBaby toll-FREE at 866-626-6847 or try out MotherToBaby’s new text information service by texting questions to (855) 999-3525. You can also visit MotherToBaby.org to browse a library of fact sheets about dozens of viruses, medications, vaccines, alcohol, diseases, or other exposures during pregnancy and breastfeeding or connect with all of our resources by downloading the new MotherToBaby free app, available on Android and iOS markets.

Wash your hands for National Handwashing Awareness Week

Friday, December 8th, 2017

The easiest way to stop the spread of germs is to wash your hands. You should wash your hands before and after many activities, such as when you are preparing foods or eating, after you use the bathroom, and after changing diapers or helping your child use the toilet. The simple act of washing your hands can help protect you and others from germs.

Is there really a benefit to washing hands?

You may not be able to see the germs on your hands, but they can lead to illness. Think of hand washing as your daily vaccine for staying healthy. If you’re pregnant or thinking about pregnancy, washing your hands can help protect you from viruses and infections, like CMV and toxoplasmosis. These viruses can cause problems during pregnancy.

Washing your hands is easy, just follow these easy steps:

  • Wet your hands with clean water and apply soap.
  • Rub your hands together to lather the soap. Be sure you get the back of your hands as well.
  • Scrub! And sing the “Happy Birthday” song twice to be sure you are scrubbing long enough.
  • Rinse your hands well.
  • And dry.

If you don’t have soap and water, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Just be sure to check the label. Hand sanitizers are good in a pinch, but they don’t get rid of all types of germs, so hand washing is still the best way to stay healthy.

Have questions? Email us at AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

Can you prevent infections during pregnancy?

Monday, October 16th, 2017

There are some infections that you can get either before or during pregnancy that may cause complications for you and your baby. You can’t always prevent infections, but here are some tips that can help:

Wash your hands: Washing your hands regularly can help to reduce the spread of colds, the flu and other infections, like cytomegalovirus (CMV).

Wash your hands:

  • Before preparing or eating food
  • After handling raw meat, raw eggs or unwashed vegetables
  • After being around pets or animals
  • After changing diapers, wiping runny noses, or picking up toys

Prepare food properly: Handle foods safely whenever you wash, prepare, cook and store them. Wash knives, cutting boards and dishes used to prepare raw meat, fish or poultry before using them for other foods. Foods to avoid during pregnancy include raw meat, fish, and eggs and unpasteurized foods.

Get vaccinated: Vaccinations can help protect you and your baby from certain infections during pregnancy. Some vaccinations are safe to get during pregnancy, but others are not. Talk to your provider to make sure any vaccination you get during pregnancy is safe. Make sure your vaccinations are up to date before you get pregnant.

Protect yourself from Zika: If you get infected with the Zika virus during pregnancy, you can pass it to your baby. It causes a birth defect called microcephaly and other brain problems. Zika virus spreads through mosquito bites and through body fluids, like blood and semen.

  • If you’re pregnant or trying to get pregnant, don’t visit a Zika-affected area unless absolutely necessary.
  • Protect yourself from mosquito bites.
  • If your male or female partner may be infected with Zika, use a barrier method (like a condom) every time you have sex or don’t have sex at all.
  • If you’re pregnant and think you may have been exposed to Zika virus, see your health care provider right away.

Ask someone else to clean your cat’s litter box: If you have to do it yourself, wear gloves. Wash your hands thoroughly when you’re done emptying the litter. Dirty cat litter may contain toxoplasmosis, an infection caused by a parasite. Toxoplasmosis can cause health problems for your baby during pregnancy.

Get tested for sexually transmitted infections (STIs): STIs are infections you can get from having unprotected sex with someone who’s infected. If you’re pregnant and have an STI, it can cause serious problems for your baby, including premature birth and birth defects. Testing for STIs is a part of prenatal care. If you have an STI, getting treatment early can help protect your baby.

Talk to your health care provider: Talk to your provider about how to prevent infections, making sure that you’re up-to-date on your vaccinations before pregnancy, and what vaccinations you need during pregnancy.

Have questions? Text or email us at Askus@marchofdimes.org.

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.