As a cat owner and a soon-to-be mother, you have likely heard of and have worried about toxoplasmosis. While the parasite that causes this disease is generally not considered to be concerning, it can seriously affect those who are pregnant or have weak immune systems. And many are aware that it is quite prevalent and can be typically found in the fecal matter of an infected cat.
You probably don’t want to abandon your furry family member just from there being a possible parasite in the home, but you also don’t want your baby to be hurt in any way. So, what can you do?
First off, don’t give up your cat just yet. There are less traumatic ways of dealing with toxoplasmosis, and one of the best first steps in doing so is by learning more about the condition.
What is toxoplasmosis?
Okay, so you know that toxoplasmosis is a disease caused by a parasite and that this parasite is usually not something you need to worry about. But that’s not all there is to know if you want to deal with the disease effectively. Instead, you need to have a concrete definition in mind.
So, don’t think of toxoplasmosis as just a disease caused by a relatively harmless parasite. While both toxoplasmosis and its parasite originator, toxoplasma gondii, are usually benign, they aren’t always. In fact, they can cause a blood infection with severe symptoms, including:
- Flu-like symptoms, such as swollen lymph glands or muscle aches and pains
- Brain or other organ damage
- Reduced or blurry vision
- Ocular pain
You can contract the parasite, and subsequently, the disease that it creates, from a number of things (not just cats!), including:
- Eating undercooked, contaminated meat or shellfish
- Consuming food that was touched by kitchen utensils that came into contact with raw, contaminated meat or shellfish
- Drinking unclean water
How will the disease affect your pregnancy?
If you’re not immune to the disease and you come into contact with it during pregnancy, it’s likely your unborn baby will become infected. But the severity of the infection can depend on the trimester you’re in.
Early Trimester Reaction
If toxoplasmosis affects you during your first or second trimester, the risk that your baby is severely affected is a 5–6% chance. It’s a low risk, but the effects of it can be devastating. The baby could end up with the following:
- Premature birth
- Low birth weight
- Abnormal retinas
- Cognitive difficulties
- Abnormal head size
Later Trimester Reaction
During the third trimester, your unborn baby is more likely to get infected by toxoplasmosis if you have it. But the risk of damage is much less likely because your baby is more developed at this stage.
How can you avoid it?
To prevent toxoplasmosis from affecting your pregnancy, consider the following avoidance measures:
- Have someone else change your cat’s litter daily.
- If you let your cat outside, cover any outdoor sandboxes to prevent your cat from defecating in them.
- Stray cats, especially young ones, are more likely to have toxoplasmosis, so avoid adopting them.
- Wash any kitchen supplies that have been in contact with raw meat.
- Because toxoplasmosis infections can pass by unnoticed, you should also talk to your doctor about getting a blood test to see if you have the disease.
What happens if you contract toxoplasmosis?
If your avoidance measures haven’t quite worked and you’ve managed to contract toxoplasmosis, there is still hope. The disease will usually disappear on its own within a few weeks or months. But because of its risk to an unborn baby during pregnancy, doctors will typically recommend you take pyrimethamine to treat the disease and reduce its symptoms right away.
This medication can be a costly addition to your medical bill on top of all your other pregnancy concerns. But you can make it more affordable by ordering your medication from Canada Pharmacy Depot, an international and Canadian pharmacy referral service. Doing so will connect you to licensed pharmacies that are outside the United States, but have lower prescription prices.
So, as you can see, there’s no need for you to part ways with your feline family member to deal with toxoplasmosis. You just need to remember to apply the avoidance measures for the disease and to alert your doctor right away if you think you’ve contracted the disease.