Cats are the primary host of toxoplasmosis, an infection caused by the parasite Toxoplasma gondii. The majority of humans won't experience toxoplasmosis symptoms even if they're infected, but those who have weak immune systems often develop them. Toxoplasmosis also poses a risk to pregnant women and their unborn babies. Pregnant women should avoid cleaning litter boxes when possible or take precautions, such as wearing gloves, if litter box cleaning duty is unavoidable.
Cats and Toxoplasmosis
Cats frequently contract toxoplasmosis after consuming infected prey such as wild birds and rodents. They also sometimes contract it after contact with infected feline stool. After cats are infected, they excrete oocysts that are possibly infectious.
Pregnant Women and Toxoplasmosis
People can contract toxoplasmosis through exposure to infected feline stool matter. If a woman becomes infected during pregnancy or just prior to it, she can spread it to her unborn child. Pregnant women who contract toxoplasmosis often exhibit no signs of the disease. The majority of babies who contract the infection lack symptoms when they're born, too. They sometimes, however, experience severe effects of the infection later in life. Mental disability and visual impairment are just two examples. Some newborn babies with toxoplasmosis are born with severe brain or eye damage. Other potential risks of toxoplasmosis infection in pregnant women include stillbirth, miscarriage, premature delivery and problems with growth.
Pregnant Women and Litter Box Cleaning
If you're a pregnant woman who lives with a cat, avoid cleaning his litter box if possible. Ask someone else in your household or neighborhood to clean the box for you. If that's not realistic, put disposable rubber gloves and a dust mask on whenever you clean it. Masks can stop the inhalation of oocysts that are in the air. After you're through cleaning out the litter box, thoroughly wash your hands using warm water and soap. If you live with other people, make sure they're just as meticulous and wash their hands after cleaning the litter box.
Regular and thorough litter box scooping is imperative for households with a pregnant resident. Oocysts are only infectious after incubation phases that last for between one and five days, so the sooner you dispose of the cat's stool after it is excreted, the lower the risk of infection. Scoop the litter two times per day. Regularly change the litter and clean the box out thoroughly with very hot water. Put old cat stools in plastic bags before placing them in the trash.
If you're pregnant and concerned that you may have the infection, it's important for you to seek medical attention promptly. Possible signs of the infection include sore throat, shortness of breath, fever, exhaustion, muscle soreness, headache, swelling of the lymph glands, neurological issues, temporary eyesight loss and temporary blurry eyesight.