Toxoplasmosis is an infection that can cause a miscarriage or brain damage in the fetus. Pregnant women should not worry about contracting toxoplasmosis by handling their indoor cats.
According to microbiologist J.P.Dubey, an expert in toxoplasmosis, "The possibility of transmission to human beings touching or caring for indoor cats is minimal to nonexistent. Pregnant women need not dispose of a beloved indoor cat, because an indoor cat on a commercial diet does not become infected with toxoplasmosis."
A minor danger lies in the possibility that the cat became infected before becoming an indoor cat. Even so, it is improbable that the cat feces will carry toxoplasmosis cysts more than 35 days after the initial infection. A healthy indoor cat will not become infected with toxoplasmosis unless the cat has access to infected feces, infected meat, infected prey, or infected raw milk. The indoor cat who eats a commercial cat food and uses only his own litter box, should not become infected. Toxoplasmosis is another good argument for keeping all pet cats indoors.
Since the results of toxoplasmosis infection in a developing fetus are so terrible, it is a good idea to be cautious; scoop the litter twice a day before any possible parasitic cysts complete their 24 hour infection cycle. Change litter often using scalding water to clean box, and always wear rubber gloves or better yet, assign litter box duty to another family member. The pregnant woman should always wear rubber gloves while gardening in soil which may be contaminated by outdoor cats. Remember the danger of toxoplasmosis is far greater from handling and eating raw or undercooked meat than it is from indoor cats. By taking sensible precautions, we can protect ourselves, as well as our cats, from toxoplasmosis.
Guidelines for Pregnant Women
- Avoid all contact with the feces of outdoor cats.
- Feed indoor cats a commercial diet so that the cats will not become infected.
- If it is necessary to clean the litter box of an indoor cat personally, do so with gloves. Scoop the litter twice daily, then wash hands thoroughly.
- Carefully wash hands and all utensils after preparing raw meat for cooking.
Cook all meat to at least 151 degrees Fahrenheit.