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Toxoplasmosis and Pregnancy

Toxoplasmosis is an infection spread by a parasite called Toxoplasma gondii. Generally, the infection is contracted from soil or cat litter that has been contaminated with the parasite. Another way of contracting toxoplasmosis is by eating the meat of infected animals that has been undercooked. Uncooked food that has come into contact with contaminated meat can also pose a risk of passing on toxoplasmosis.

This infection can put an unborn fetus at risk during a pregnancy and while the symptoms of toxoplasmosis may not appear at birth, there are disabilities that can affect the child later in life. To learn about toxoplasmosis and the effects it may have on a fetus, take a look below at the questions that have been answered by the Experts.

Will buying a kitten cause problems like toxoplasmosis in pregnancy?

Having and caring for a kitten or a cat during pregnancy is generally not an issue as long as a few precautions are taken. The most important thing to understand during pregnancy is the possibility of getting infected with toxoplasmosis. This is an infection that a pregnant woman can contract from cat litter which can have serious effects on the unborn baby.

However, this infection isn’t spread by a cat or a kitten itself but rather by exposed cat feces which have been excreted 24 hours ago. Basically as long as the pregnant woman doesn't handle the litter box and its contents, there shouldn't be any issue. However, if the pregnant woman must clean the litter box, it is always best to wear gloves to protect the mother from coming into contact with the litter. After handling the litter (even with gloves) it is important to wash the hands thoroughly. Another point to remember is that while cat litter is a high risk during pregnancy, many women can also contract toxoplasmosis when they consume meat that hasn't been cooked enough.

Can someone get toxoplasmosis from hugging a family member with cats? Are swollen lymph nodes a sign of it?

Many conditions may cause a person to have swollen lymph nodes including toxoplasmosis. However, when a home is well kept, the chances of the house cat transmitting the infection are generally small. Many expectant mothers can have a blood test to determine if they have already been exposed to toxoplasmosis. There is usually nothing to be concerned about if the mother hasn't already been exposed.

Generally, the chances of a pregnant woman contracting toxoplasmosis when she doesn’t own a cat are rare. The infection usually occurs when the person inhales the particles in the droppings of an infected cat and not by actual contact with cats or those who have cats.

Can someone get toxoplasmosis from eating pork or cleaning a litter box?

Generally, a person who eats pork could contract trichinosis from pork products, not toxoplasmosis. However, in the United States, the chance of contracting such an infection is rare due to the way pork is cured and it is nearly impossible once the meat has been cooked.

However, if a person from the United States were to travel to Mexico and eat cooked pork, there is a very good chance of contracting trichinosis.

To avoid the chance of contracting toxoplasmosis, a pregnant woman should generally stay away from looking after cats that live outdoors or from cleaning a cat litter box that could contain infected feces..

Can someone get toxoplasmosis from cat urine?

Generally, a person cannot contract toxoplasmosis through cat urine and it is usually only through cat feces. Basically, a person living in the U.S. usually wouldn't have to worry about toxoplasmosis unless the person's immune system is severely compromised. People who have HIV or Hepatitis C would usually be at a higher risk to contract toxoplasmosis.

Toxoplasmosis can affect pregnant women when they woman handle infected cat feces. However, since this condition can also be contracted from uncooked food, it is important to understand more about it if you are pregnant. If you have questions or concerns regarding toxoplasmosis, ask an Expert for medical clarity on the risks involved and the treatment of the infection right away.
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