TOXOPLASMOSIS: CONCERNS FOR HUMAN PREGNANCY
Cats can have a toxoplasmosis infection without having any symptoms, and they can shed the organism into their enviroment in their feces.
When a woman becomes pregnant, a common topic that arises between the patient and the doctor is Toxoplasmosis. As with most commonly discussed subjects, there is a lot of good information and a lot of bad information available, and it is difficult for people without a strong medical background to grasp the difference.
One particularly complex issue is testing for toxoplasmosis. There is no simple "yes-or-no" test for people or cats that can practically guide decision-making. It is not a bad idea for women to be tested and/or to have their cats tested because the results could provide some amount of peace of mind. We believe it would be a bad idea, however, to not follow the guidelines for avoiding infection, listed here, regardless of the test results.
BE VERY CAREFUL HANDLING RAW MEAT, AND AVOID EATING RAW OR UNDERCOOKED MEAT.
For perspective: It is certainly possible to get toxoplasmosis from a pet cat, but no scientific correlation between cat ownership and toxoplasmosis in people has ever been found; on the other hand, a strong correlation has been found between toxoplasmosis and working in a slaughterhouse or as a butcher.
Careful handling of raw meat is the most important consideration for preventing toxoplasmosis. One particular consideration: microwaving does not heat meat evenly enough to reliably kill the organism.
DECREASE THE CAT'S EXPOSURE TO RAW MEAT.
Do not feed raw meat to your cat. If it is reasonably possible to do so, do not allow your cat outside to hunt.
WEAR RUBBER GLOVES WHEN GARDENING.
Cats often use garden soil for defecating.
DO NOT DRINK RAW MILK, ESPECIALLY GOATS MILK.
SCOOP THE LITTERBOX ONCE OR TWICE DAILY. WASH HANDS AFTER SCOOPING. OR BEST: HAVE SOMEONE OTHER THAN THE PREGNANT PERSON SCOOP THE BOX.
When a cat passes toxoplasmosis in its feces, the organism requires a minimum of 24 to 48 hours outside of the cat in order to become infectious (capable of causing disease). In other words, if all the feces is removed from the litterbox every 24 hours or less, there is no chance of infectious Toxoplasma organisms being present.
DO NOT DUMP THE LITTER BOX IN THE BACKYARD.