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Family Cats and Pregnant Women: Take Measures to Prevent Toxoplasmosis Infection

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Prevention Recommendations to Keep Mom Safe

Toxoplasmosis is a disease caused by ingesting raw or undercooked meats, or direct contact with infected feline feces.  The risks to your baby increase as your pregnancy develops.

Indoor cats pose less of a risk because they are not hunting small rodents while you sleep.  Outdoor cats are a greater risk because they hunt and can bury their infected stool in your yard, garden or flower beds.

See your veterinarian early in your pregnancy to discuss your potential risks of becoming infected with toxoplasmosis.  Your veterinarian can make further recommendations to prevent your exposure to this harmful parasite.

Nothing must spoil the joys of becoming a new parent.  Not even your pets.  But family cats with normal, every day habits can pose a risk to expectant women.  Women's immune systems can be disturbed by a parasite carried in fecal matter.  If you're the primary caretaker of your family's feline friend it may be time to ask for help.

Toxoplasmosis is a disease that can be transmitted from cats to humans by ingestion of undercooked meat products or contact with the stool of a contaminated cat. Toxoplasmosis can cause serious problems during pregnancy.

Cats allowed to roam outdoors are more likely to carry the parasite responsible for the toxoplasmosis infection.  They can hunt and kill mice and rats during the nighttime hours.  When the rodents are infected with the Toxoplasma parasite, a cat ingesting the diseased rodent can spread this infection through its fecal matter to humans.  Pregnant women have an increased sensitivity to the dangers of that contamination.

Cats living in an outdoor environment are also defecating outdoors.  They habitually bury their stool in flower beds, gardens and other soft soil areas.  Women who are pregnant must be aware that contact with dirt that has been used by an infected cat is also a danger.  Keeping cats indoors will eliminate their exposure to potentially infected rodents and decrease your chance of coming into contact with the toxoplasmosis parasite.

"More that 60 million men, women, and children in the U.S. carry the Toxoplasma parasite, but very few have symptoms because the immune system usually keeps the parasite from causing illness," advises the United States Center for Disease Control.  Appropriate testing can help your doctor determine the potential impact on your immune system.

The Center for Disease Control recommends that specific measures be taken to prevent exposure to the toxoplasmosis infection.  The CDC's preventative measures include:

  • Avoid changing the cat's litter yourself whenever possible.
  • Wear gloves if you must change it yourself.
  • Wash your hands immediately after changing the litter.
  • Wear gloves when you are outside gardening, planting flowers, vegetables, weeding or in contact with soil that could be a potential source of contamination.
  • Keep litter boxes outside your home covered.
  • Delegate changing the cat's litter to another family member.
  • Change the litter on a daily basis because the parasite is most infectious in just-eliminated fecal matter for at least the first five days.
  • Keep Fluffy or Garfield inside your house, apartment or condo throughout your pregnancy.
  • Wear gloves and/or wash your hands thoroughly after handling raw meats.

"The risk to the baby increases the later in the pregnancy the new infection is acquired," says Michael Richards, DVM.  Check in with your veterinarian early in your pregnancy to ensure a healthy infant.

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Testimonials

  •           8/29/2017

    I love Balboa Pet Hospital! Balboa Pet Hospital's staff is amazing! The staff is knowledgeable, caring and above all honest! I feel confident that my pets are getting the best possible care there. The staff has always taken time to answer all of my questions and if I think of something after my appointment, I can just email! I know I won’t have to wait too long for response.

    Unfortunately, this year I’ve had to make some really difficult decisions. The compassion the staff showed to both my pet and I made these unbearable times tolerable. I am indebted to both Dr. Del Rosso and (the wonderful) Dr. Ravn for their kindness, compassion and dedication.

    If you are new to the area or just looking for a new vet, please give Balboa pet Hospital a call!

  •           6/5/2017

    LOVE everything about this place!!! The people are all super nice & caring. I never feel like they’re trying to sell me stuff I don’t need. The vets (especially Dr. Alice Chan) are wonderful, I always fee; comfortable coming here whenever Walle has an issue. They even help me file the insurance claims after each visit! Would highly recommended any pet owners to see them for their fur-baby needs.

  •           6/5/2017

    My dog has been a regular patient since 7 years ago. Once in a while we visit other hospitals due to time conflicts. However, we always go back to Balboa Pet Hospital. My dog has bad allergy and the doctors and assistants always follow up with us after the treatments or visits, help us submit the insurance claims. It’s not a cheapest place to go but their patience and caring are irreplaceable.

  •           4/28/2017

    I’m glad to have found Balboa Pet Hospital near my home. It’s definitely a hidden gem! Dr. Chan saw my dog, Oreo, for her skin problem last week, and my three cats, Pepper, Tofu and Cola, today for annual check-up. She’s very patient (especially with Oreo who’s shy to strangers), knowledgeable and approachable. The front staffs are also very friendly and helpful. They are so prompt to reply my email (within a few hours when I checked back my mailbox). All my pets are about 1-year-old and I’ll definitely bring them here for their health issues/checkup in many years followed.

  •           5/4/2017

    Brought my dog here for a checkup and some minor concerns. Dr. Chan was very professional. She got my dog the treatment he needed and answered all my questions regarding my concerns. The rest of the staff were very friendly and gentle with my dog. You could tell that the staff are genuine animal lovers; definitely something you want when you entrust the health of your pet to someone.

  •           5 of 5

    Been bringing our animals to Balboa for over 25 years and will continue because they provide great advice and care. We love Dr. D and staff are really helpful and friendly. Now if I can find medical care for myself like my animals get at Balboa...

  •           5 of 5

    I have been a patron of Balboa Pet Hospital for almost 500 years now (wink). I love Everybody there and feel they are have always been a great resource and the BEST support system for everything pertaining to my pets.

  •          

    The staff is very kind and gentle, the doctors are very caring and patient when dealing with my scared cat Lulu. I appreciate the time they took to put her at ease and making this procedure as painless as possible for the both of us. Will definitely be spreading the word. Thank you Balboa Pet Hospital.
     

    Linda P.

    San Francisco, CA

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