Many pregnant women in the past have worried about the health of their unborn babies around cats. The disease responsible for their fear is known as toxoplasmosis. However, do pregnant women need to worry? Here is what you need to know about staying safe around cats while pregnant.
One of the most common misconceptions women have is that they need to get rid of their cats when they are pregnant. They believe that being anywhere near a cat or a litter box will result in them contracting the disease toxoplasmosis. This could not be further from the truth. While toxoplasmosis is dangerous for a developing baby, it takes a lot more than just being near a cat to contract this dangerous disease.
Related: Common Pregnancy Myths
Ways to stay safe
You do not need to get rid of your family pet. However, there are some steps you may need to take to make sure you do not contract toxoplasmosis. The first thing you can do is know what exactly can cause toxoplasmosis. The disease is one of the most dangerous foodborne illnesses in the U.S. It is caused by a parasite found in infected raw meat. Cats contract the disease when they eat raw meat given by humans or from the mice and birds they catch outside. The parasite then leaves their system through their feces and develops after 24 hours. Women can become exposed to it when cleaning a litter box or even gardening outside. Some ways to help prevent exposure to the disease include:
- Having someone else clean the litter box
- Washing your hands immediately after cleaning the litter box
- Only feed your cat commercial food
- Keeping your cat indoors
- Keeping any raw meat away from cats
- Using gloves while gardening
- Washing hands after gardening
- Washing hands after preparing any raw meat
- Making sure any raw meat is thoroughly cooked for you or your cat
- Make sure litter boxes are cleaned daily
Staying safe around cats while pregnant will help reduce your risk of toxoplasmosis. Most importantly, ask your doctor about any health concerns you might have while pregnant and get second opinions when needed. Taking care of your health while pregnant is so vital for the development of your baby and even your own safety.