Worries about the health of an unborn child weigh heavily on the mind of an expectant mum and there seem to be potential hazards everywhere you look.
People may warn you about the dangers of picking up toxoplasmosis from your cat as if it is a huge risk. Don't panic - find out the facts.
Toxoplasmosis is caused by the infection of a parasite called Toxoplasma gondii. If a pregnant woman is infected during pregnancy (especially the first trimester) it can cause problems for the developing foetus. Cats can carry the parasite if they eat infected wildlife; however, this can only be passed on via faeces for 2 weeks after the first infection and you actually have to swallow the parasite to become infected. Cats do not present the greatest risk of meeting toxoplasmosis - undercooked meat and unwashed vegetables are a larger risk. There are simple precautions which you can take to avoid the problem.
- Clean litter trays daily. Get someone else to clean the litter tray while you are pregnant or wear rubber gloves.
- Follow normal hygiene precautions about keeping cats off kitchen surfaces and washing your hands regularly.
- Wear gloves if you are gardening. Wash vegetables carefully.
- Wash hands after handling raw meat and ensure it is cooked properly.
Problems are very rare and easily avoided if simple hygiene precautions are taken. If you are at all worried consult your doctor for more information. You can also contact Tommy's Campaign, which incorporates the Toxoplasma Trust, if you have worries.
It is also necessary to ensure that your cat does not have roundworms. Keep up to date with your cat's regular worming routine and take normal hygiene precautions and it will carry no more risk of passing anything on to your baby than you do.