What Are The Chances Of Getting Toxoplasmosis While Pregnant?

 

cats and pregnancy

Okay, I think this one was made up by a pregnant woman to get out of cleaning the kitty litter.

I can’t say I blame her, between morning sickness and an extra 30lbs, scooping out cat poo is about the last thing you want to do. But what if you’re the only one around and your cat is standing on a mountain of crap?

The big scare on this one is something called toxoplasmosis. It’s a parasite that is transmitted between warm blooded animals. You can get it from ingesting the raw or uncooked meat from something infected with it or from ingesting the feces of an infected cat. It can cause all kinds of nasty problems in an unborn child like brain damage and blindness, just to name a few.

The cat most likely got it from eating an infected rodent so if Mittens is an indoor cat, you’re probably okay. Even if he does have it, you literally have to ingest the parasite (well technically a cyst called an oocyst) in his poop.

This one also sounds like a bit of a run away train because if you worry about the poop in the litter box, then you need to worry about the poop that may be in garden soil and if you don’t garden well what about the person who was gardening and shook your hand and then you touched your mouth?! You see where this one is going.

It looks like this is a relatively rare thing and to it sounds like becoming infected when you’re pregnant is a bit of a perfect storm but with the effects being so scary, it gets a lot of attention.

Hey, if you can get out of it, go for it. If you can’t, a little hand washing or glove wearing will go along way, that, and maybe cutting down on your cat shit consumption – at least during your pregnancy anyway.

search: toxoplasmosis, cat litter during pregnancy, oocyst

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17 Comments

  • I was worried about this when I first found out I was pregnant. I have two cats. However, after reading up on a lot of research and information, it seems very unlikely I would catch toxo from cats. They have always been indoor cats. Once in a while, we use to let them go in the back yard, supervised. They like going outside but we don’t allow it on a regular basis. They don’t eat raw meat or hunt. They don’t come in contact with other cats. They don’t come in contact with any other animal feces. They haven’t been outside in months, so even if they were exposed somehow the last time we let them outside. The parasite would have worked it’s way through their system already.
    I started using gloves while cleaning the catboxes though, just as an added precaution. I’ve heard the same thing about the ammonia in their pee, but their catbox is located in a well ventilated area, so no need to freak out about the pee either. I feel like as soon as you become pregnant there is some unnecessary push to cause mass hysteria with pregnant women. Eventually, we will all have to be living in bubbles.
    I am not saying toxo isn’t a real thing or that it isn’t serious, but I think common sense and good hygiene should suffice.

  • I had to look into toxoplasmosis quite a lot when we found out I was pregnant (totally unplanned and unexpected, but we’re all happy now the initial shock has worn off). A matter of weeks before finding out about the pregnancy we got a couple of feral kittens from a farm and it turned out the whole litter was not at all well. The risk was highlighted by Mum who had herself suffered a miscarriage as a result of a toxoplasmosis infection, we were sheep farmers when I grew up and sheep can become infected by toxoplasmosis as well as cats and pass it on to pregnant ladies to, so any one who works around sheep ought to look into the risk to them if they are in plan on becoming pregnant. As mentioned my kittens were feral kittens from a farm, the infection rate of feral cats in the UK for toxoplasmosis is quoted as possibly being as high as 50% so with these kittens being feral and showing all the symptoms of the infection we knew there was potentially a very significant risk to the baby and as soon as we found out about my pregnancy I didn’t go anywhere near them and my boyfriend took over all care, with a lot of advice from a vet friend. Unfortunately we did lose both kittens in the end, they did live about a fortnight longer than any other kitten in the litter of 10 so we gave them the best possible chance. So it is a bit of a perfect storm situation! I have had a blood test which has come back negative and will be tested for this in addition to the normal blood tests that will be performed through out my pregnancy to keep an eye. From the reading I did if you have an indoor cat there is very little chance of picking it up from your cat, there’s an increased risk if your cat is out and about hunting and interacting with wild populations, or if you cat is feral. If you did get infected the effects vary depending on the stage of pregnancy when you are infected. I was quoted 15% chance of transmission to baby with an early, infection and the effects can include miscarriage, fluid on the brain and eye sight problems including blindness, the risk of passing it on to baby increase further through the pregnancy increase but the effects whilst still bad are less and treatable. So whilst if you have the perfect storm going on this is something you really need to think about, for most people toxoplasmosis isn’t something to lose a lot of sleep over!

  • Just to diffuse some myths…I don’t own a cat, nor have I been around a cat and I have been diagnosed with Toxoplasmosis. I do garden and I eat my meat rare so I could have contracted the parasite from either of those ways. While it is rare, and quite frankly, scary, it does happen. I am proof of that. And it is no fun at all. I have been miserable sick, from the parasite and from the meds. I am not an extremist so I ate sushi, still ate my steaks rare, drank a glass of wine or two here and there and probably did many other things that are taboo during my first pregnancy. I would have never guessed that I would have something as serious as this. Both the baby and I could be impacted by both the meds and the parasite itself. So who knows. I just wanted to share because while I agree and respect the post and the comments, toxoplasmosis is real and sucks!!!

  • Another vet weighing in here… If you have to change your cat box (like me), scooping it at least every 24 hours reduces your risk GREATLY. The oocysts are not immediately infective, so frequent cleaning decreases the likelihood that you would be exposed to an infective oocyst.

    Also important to note, there is some belief that it is possible to infected from inhaling the dust from the litter when changing the box, so don’t get too hung up on "eating poop" being the only way it’s transmitted.

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